Unleashing Mayhem: A High-Octane Journey Through the MAD MAX Saga

From its crusty origins on the long, lonesome highways of dystopian Australia to the latest mind-bending instalment, the Mad Max franchise has always required its audience to commit to a level of mayhem and melodrama that few other franchises would dare to visit, let alone spend a decade – or three – perfecting. Blending broken-down car chases, a harshly beautiful dystopian setting and stories of human survival, the brainchild of director George Miller has redefined action cinema, from the multimillion-dollar budgetary aspirations of Hollywood today, back to its gritty and thoroughbred independent foundations. With the franchise’s latest offering, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, now in cinemas, it seems like an opportune time to crank ole’ War Pig’s engine to ‘bitch-slap’ degree, and take a road trip through the wasteland, ranking all Mad Max movies from the blistering desert floor to the summit of Valhalla.

5. Exploring the Depths: MAD MAX Beyond Thunderdome (1985)

The most unusual addition to the Mad Max saga comes at the end, with Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985), whose villainess, Aunty Entity, is played with side-splitting conviction by Tina Turner. In the teeming, butch world of Bartertown, Max (played with rock-hard charm by Mel Gibson) must battle and barter his way through Thunderdome and forge unlikely allies. Himself seeking revenge for the brutal murder of his wife and child, Max must ultimately bend the world to his will. And bend it she does. This, one of the most unusual films of the series, differs greatly in its tone from the raw power of the first two instalments, and yet it’s still a key part of the story.

Available for streaming on MAX.

4. Where It All Began: MAD MAX (1979)

The film that prompted a thousand obsessions, the first Mad Max (1979) stars a road warrior of a cop, Max Rockatansky, patrolling the highways of a world broken by the hinges of civilisation on its way to a thousand meltdowns. The birth of an icon, of the anti-hero stumbling in the footsteps of a lost ancestry, is dramatised in the basic arc of Max’s development throughout this first adventure.

Catch the origins of Max on MAX.

3. The Fury Within: FURIOSA: A Mad Max Saga (2024)

Situated at the centre of our list, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga literally tries to jump the high bar set by its predecessors. The first title to feature a young Furiosa, played by Anya Taylor-Joy (and her companion, played by Yola Fatubi), it tells the story of Furiosa’s own abduction by the warlord Dementus, and her ultimately unsuccessful attempt to avenge her family. As with all of the films in the franchise, the action here is unrelenting, but character stakes are spiced in to make the action personal.

Now playing in theaters.

2. The Wasteland Warrior: MAD MAX 2: The Road Warrior (1981)

And in Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981), the post-apocalyptic genre is honed and refined, emerging with Max as the archetypal survivor. The film ups the ante in every way – it’s the action, the bad guys, the unwholesome alliances that Max makes, all of it, but I would say that that film is the one that crystallises the franchise: Mad Max: the world has gone crazy.

Stream The Road Warrior on MAX.

1. A Masterpiece of Mayhem: MAD MAX: Fury Road (2015)

The film that crowns the trek is Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), the film that renewed the franchise. It is hard to imagine two better performances than those of Tom Hardy (who took over the Mad Max role from Mel Gibson) and Charlize Theron, two ‘road warriors’ escaping from the oppressive claws of the big bad boss/Immortan Joe. George Miller is truly a genius, and the movie blends some of the best action scenes in film history with an existential story of freedom and redemption.

Experience the fury on MAX.

Exploring the MAX Factor

At its heart, the Mad Max series pushes the envelope, bringing style to a pulsating story, both offering a raw emotional fulfillment. But it has gone far beyond just being a movie. It has become a pop culture phenomenon. Some even say that it has created a new set of Hollywood action filmmakers. The reason of this influence partly lies in the very essence of the Mad Max saga. It tells the story of a man who, despite desperately seeking hope in his hopeless world, remains without it.

And as we consider these filmed gems, it’s hard not to feel that the spirit that is Mad Max lives on – the creative spirit that finds a way to survive, yet thrive, in a landscape that can sometimes seem bereft of fertility and imagination. If you’ve never been to the wasteland and don’t know where to begin, there is simply no better place.

Buckle up and rev your engines. It’s time to drive fast through the arid wastelands of the Mad Max films. At MAX the movies are streaming, making the desert drive easier than ever. It’s a dangerous road ahead, but the wasteland has its glories for those willing to ride into the madness. The Mad Max saga continues. Story-telling is powerful, the human spirit, free and wild is unstoppable.

May 29, 2024
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