“Mad Max: Fury Road” is in theatres Friday, May 15.
Starring Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron, the film is the fourth addition to the “Mad Max” franchise from director George Miller. The movie is phenomenal, the best of the year so far.
If you’re not familiar with the movies — the first came out in 1979 — then the cult hype around the return of the series may be lost on you.
Before the film’s release, here’s a quick primer to catch you up to speed on Max.
Who exactly is this Max and why is he “Mad”?
In a dystopian crime-ridden world, Max Rockatansky was part of a police force holding criminals at bay.
All of that changed at the end of the first film.
*Warning* Some spoilers ahead *Warning*
He resigned from his job after his partner Goose was left for dead by a mad motorcycle gang. After his wife and infant child were killed in the movie’s climax, Rockatansky essentially went mad.
There’s no other word for it.
He hunted down the rest of the gang, plucking them off one by one until they were all dead. He even handcuffed the final guy to a wrecked car that was about to blow. Instead of killing him outright, he left him with a hacksaw to attempt to cut through either the cuffs or his ankle before leaving him for dead.
Max is a man living on the edge. He has nothing to live for, yet he somehow always ends up getting mixed up in an adventure where he’s called upon to save a group of defenseless people. Don’t mistake him for a hero — he’s no Superman, but he’s not a villain either. You could probably categorise Max under a group of antiheroes or reluctant saviour.
How many films are there?
“Fury Road” will be the fourth film in the franchise.
The other three are the original “Mad Max” (1979), “Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior” (1982), and “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” (1985).
Do I need to see them before checking out “Fury Road”?
Though Miller told The Hollywood Reporter that all of the films are “connected in spirit,” “Fury Road” stands on its own. Since the film’s pretty light on plot (and dialogue), focusing more heavily on the visuals and action, you’ll be just fine.
The introduction of Tom Hardy taking over as Max is sort of a passing of the torch.
Think of “Fury Road” as a completely new James Bond instalment with a new actor stepping in to play the role. He has a new agenda and different missions to carry out. Likewise, this is an entirely new adventure in the world of “Max.”
So, why’s the newest one coming out now — years later? Seems like an awful long time to wait for another sequel.
Miller has been trying to bring “Fury Road” to screen for 15 years, but it has been delayed several times and has even swapped studios.
“When 9/11 happened, the American dollar collapsed against the Australian dollar, the budget ballooned, and it fell apart,” Miller explained to THR. “So we had to move on to Happy Feet because the digital unit doing that was ready, and Warners said, ‘Let’s go.'”
When the film was at Warner Bros., it was originally set to film in Australia, like the previous installments, however, an unusually heavy rain storm set the film back 18 months. Finally, production moved to Africa.
And why isn’t Mel Gibson reprising his role as the lead?
Miller originally wanted him to return, and he was just about onboard when there were original talks for the film in 2000 and 2001; however, as delays for the film went on, two concerns came up.
“By the time we were ready for Fury Road again, Mel had all those troubles,” Miller told the Huffington Post. “It also definitely got to the stage where it wasn’t like Unforgiven, where it plays with an older guy. It was definitely the younger guy, the same guy.”
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