One of the highest-regarded action movies of the last 10 years was Mad Mad: Fury Road. This George Miller film perfectly leveraged the power of charismatic stars, practical effects, and a truly insane concept to deliver a memorable experience for fans everywhere.
Recognized by the Academy and general audiences, Fury Road was actually a sequel (as well as a soft reboot) of the Mad Max film franchise, which dates to 1979. The first film in that franchise was Mad Max, and I watched it last night.
The original Mad Max stars a young, pre-fame Mel Gibson as the title character. It is, in many ways, completely different to Fury Road. Yet, it’s similar in numerous others.
George Miller, who also directed the original, takes his inspiration from his 1979 avant-garde movie. Throughout Fury Road, you can see shots from the original film. So, as a first time watcher, I had a sense of reverse-nostalgia.
(Is reverse nostalgia a thing, or did I just make it up? Let’s go with the first one.)
Ultimately, Mad Max is so crazy, violent, and straightforward that it’s a true exploitation film — in a rather effective way. It’s not an easy movie to watch, especially with all the violence displayed on screen.
Personally, I’d always wondered why the series was titled Mad Max when the character was so restrained in Fury Road. Well, now I know. And the reason is related to the brutality displayed on screen and one of the most horrifying scenes I’ve ever seen.
I have a soft spot for exploitation films. (That much can be seen on my Twitter feed for movies like Showgirls.) Naturally, this film draws me in fast.
Mad Max Set the Franchise Down the Right Road
Nobody spent hundreds of millions of dollars in Mad Max, and yet the fantastic stunts and incredibly-shot action sequences are present throughout. Nobody knew who George Miller or Mel Gibson were when the movie was first made. Nonetheless, both assume their roles behind and in front of the camera with a commendable skill.
It’s easy to see how this great movie kicked off the career of two Hollywood powerhouses that have gone on to win numerous awards – including Oscars.
Mad Max came out in an era where action films seemed to be headed in a different direction of campiness and restraint.
You can compare the film with, say, the Roger Moore James Bond films being released around that time.
And yet, Mad Max came in with its own unique style and set the stage for other films in following years, which can be said about the legacy of this franchise. That is also made up from two additional films, which I have not seen.
(Should I? Let me know in the comments if you’ve seen them.)
If you’re looking for some action escapism and a lesson on why big budgets are not needed for spectacle, look no further than Mad Max, especially if you’re a fan of Fury Road. It’s currently streaming on Netflix, so you can see it with relative ease if you’re a subscriber (which most of us are, because… 2020).
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