He was a man who turned in his police gear when his best friend, a fellow cop, was murdered. He lost his soul when his wife and child were killed. And from that moment on, Max Rockatansky became his own fighting force, a man with no allegiance, a man in the wasteland.
And from one motion picture, the character originally portrayed by Mel Gibson became one of the greatest anti-heroes of film. Yep, I’m talking about the Mad Max film trilogy.
To appreciate the stories, you must start at the beginning. And “the beginning” was an Australian-made film from 1979, a film that looked more suited for a late-night drive-in double-feature with Dirty Mary / Crazy Larry or Eat My Dust.
Here’s the original Australian trailer.
By the time Mad Max was released in the United States by American International Pictures, the film was redubbed – yes, an Australian film was re-dubbed for American audiences. Some of the Australian colloquialisms were replaced by American slang. Thankfully, they didn’t flip the negatives so that Max wasn’t driving on the left side of the road. But I digress.
This was actually one of the last films released by American International Pictures, and this was the version that appeared on HBO, back when HBO used to play theatrical features six months after their cinema debuts.
By 1982, the sequel, Mad Max 2, was released. In America, since the first film wasn’t exactly a box office blockbuster, the film was retitled The Road Warrior. And this was actually the first Mad Max film that I saw – and I saw it at least a few more times during my college years. Heck, it played at Sangertown Square’s multiplex for a few months, that was just an invitation for me to see it again and again.
By 1985, the third film in the series, Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, debuted. I actually liked the first half of this film, but then the second half – involving children trying to find their way home – felt flat. Still, it was a great action film, and casting Tina Turner as Auntie Entity, the “big bad” of Bartertown, was a nice touch.
But then… I waited for the next film.
Certainly Mel Gibson would make another Mad Max film… after he finished with all the Lethal Weapon pictures… and after he finished his Biblical epics like The Passion of the Christ… and even after his off-screen persona turned into a national joke involving alcohol-fueled arrests and racist tirades and tape-recorded meltdowns… to the point where he was reduced to appearing as “stunt-casting” roles in The Expendables III and Machete Kills…
I hoped. I hoped that there would be another installment of the adventures of Max Rockatansky. I wanted more carnage in the wasteland. I wanted more vehicular violence. I wanted that mélange of Ben-Hur‘s chariot race with The Cars That Ate Paris and Vanishing Point and Damnation Alley…
Ten years. Twenty years. Twenty-five years. Rumors of a fourth film in the franchise. Possibly Mel Gibson would reprise his role. Perhaps he was too old, maybe he would appear as a cameo in the film. There were chirps in the online community, with comments like “No Mel, No Max” being the most prevalent.
And then came the news. There would be a film in the Mad Max series, a picture called Mad Max: Fury Road, which would appear in the summer of 2015 alongside The Avengers: Age of Ultron and a few months before Star Wars VII. Tom Hardy would take the role of Max; whether the series was a reboot or a continuation, I won’t truly know until I’m sitting in the front row of the theater with a big bucket of buttered popcorn and a gallon cup of diet cola.
But I do have the trailer for this film.
And I have not felt this way about seeing a long-awaited sequel to a film series since the arrival of TRON: Legacy.
Wow. Scuse me, I’m going to hit the rewind button and watch this again.
Yeah. You guys can all have your Guardians of the Galaxy and Fifty Shades of Grey and whatever Hunger Games movie is coming out…
I’m ready for the further adventures of Mad Max and his Ford Falcon XB, the last of the V8 Interceptors.
Too right, mate.