The Gabbing Geeks all, collectively, loved Mad Max: Fury Road. I know I did. However, I’d only ever seen the original Mad Max before, so I’d missed a few movies. You absolutely didn’t need to see any of the others to enjoy Fury Road, but that’s OK. Max isn’t the sort of character that grows and changes over time. He’s a wandering do-gooder, though a reluctant one at that.
Besides, we had some unexpected problems with our “Furious Fridays” series, so here’s something else involving crazy car chases in its place.
In many ways, The Road Warrior and Fury Road follow the same basic plot structure: we meet hard-driving survivor Max as he’s out alone with nothing but a muscle car (and for this one, a dog), evading the sorts of scavengers one expects to see in any post-Apocalyptic film, particularly one filmed in Australia. He’s in the middle of nowhere, and a brief prologue tells us that there was a massive war and now the most precious of all resources is probably gasoline. That’s really all you need to know. The previous film, which didn’t get much of a release in the United States due to legal issues, showed a world where there was still some semblance of civilization. Max was originally a cop after all. That world seems to be entirely gone now.
As with Fury Road, Max runs afoul of a group of largely helpless people being harassed by a warlord with a weird mask. Lord Humungus is a massive bodybuilder type, and he’s more inclined to straight-up kill people than the arguably sleazier crimes being committed by Immortan Joe. There’s a weird guy that starts off a bit antagonistic but becomes an ally Max may not really want, idealistic types who need his help, and Max not really wanting much of anything but a fresh tank of gas before he goes on his way. Eventually Max will help out for reasons of his own never really stated. There’s nothing like a Furiosa character to be seen unless you count a barely seen warrior woman played by future Farscape actress Virginia Hey, but that’s fine. Furiosa was the break-out character from Fury Road, and arguably more of a hero than Max was in that film. In The Road Warrior, Max is the sole hero in many ways.
What charm The Road Warrior possesses, and it possesses a lot, comes from the way director George Miller put together the movie’s many great action sequences using practical effects because there really weren’t any other options in those days. Likewise, the movie probably didn’t have much of a budget, and it shows, but it shows in a good way. The costumes, weapons, and crazy vehicles have an extremely cobbled together look that was perhaps a result of a low budget but also a nice touch given the setting where, yes, the characters would probably wear and drive whatever they could put together with what little was on-hand. In many ways, Fury Road was just The Road Warrior with a big budget.
This movie, rightfully, made Mad Max a household name in the United States, and put both star Mel Gibson and director George Miller in the pantheon of action movie creators as people to watch out for. If you loved Fury Road, you owe it to yourself to see where the series really took off with that familiar aesthetic. Ten out of ten feral children.