It’s been 25 years since Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome but director George Miller has never given up making another movie in the hit Australian series. Mad Max 4 is described by many as being in Development Hell for the last quarter century, it has actually spent most of the last decade in something more akin to purgatory! His most recent attempt was thwarted by the economy as the war in Iraq began. That may have been a blessing in disguise. That movie was to be shot in South Africa. Thanks to government assistance Fury Road will be filmed where it belongs in Australia. With studios in Sydney and the main locations in Broken Hill, New South Wales where Mad Max 2 was shot. Despite saying many times in the last twenty years that he would like to be involved it doesn’t look like original star Mel Gibson will be involved. It appears the character of Max Rockatansky will remain but played by a different actor. IMDB has Mark Hildebrandt listed, they also have Tom Hardy down to play an unnamed role. Other rumours suggest it will be in fact be Hardy who plays Max. English born Australian actor Sam Worthington has also been suggested but he may be busy with the inevitable Avatar sequel. The other names that keep coming up who it appears have been cast are Charlize Theron and Teresa Palmer; I think we can safely say neither will be playing Max. It appears the movie will be independently funded with no studio backing. That makes the suggested $100 million look impressive. This is going to be one big indie movie! I hope that budget is going on real sets and real vehicles and not on post production CGI. If ever there was a movie that needed to be real, even dirty and visceral it is a Mad Max movie.
A report on the Hollywood Reporter website suggests the movie is set not long after Beyond Thunderdome. Mel Gibson was 29 though I suspect his character is intended to be a few years older than that stretching the time between the original three films. The three suggested starts are between 32 and 37 years old so that fits in well with the plan. There are various videos on the internet shot in the carriage works in Redfern Sydney that is acting as a studio for the production. This one from Sky news Australia has the most information of the ones I could find and includes a glimpse of a few of the vehicles that will be in the movie including Max’s “Pursuit Special” a 1973 Ford Falcon XB GT. The car was destroyed in the second movie so it will be interesting to see how they work it into the story.
After a twenty-five year gap where can the series go from here? The way I see it there are three basic options.
The one they are going for, ie a direct sequel set a few years after Thunderdome. The movie ended much like the second one, after helping the kids escape Max is alone again. The story can literally go anywhere from here. The vehicles constructed for the movie suggest that movie will be closer to The Road Warrior than Beyond Thunderdome, this can’t be a bad thing. My only concern, can there really be a Mad max movie without Mel?
20 to 30 years after the events of Beyond Thunderdome communities are getting back together as small towns begin to crop up in the wastelands. Each town has its own natural recourses. Natural springs providing fresh water, oil reserves for fuel or fertile land for farming to provide food and bio-fuel. These towns are able to exist by trade between them. Over time the roads have been painstakingly reclaimed from the deserts. Vehicles are cobbled together from the relics of the past. The uneasy civilisation is at risk from nomadic bandits who survive by stealing from the trade convoys. As an important delivery is due the young impetuses driver is killed taking a stupid risk. Enter an unlikely hero the old recluse who lives on the outskirts of town. A man with an unlikely past Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson).
It is the late 70’s the world is falling apart nomadic gangs of bikers rule the wastelands, they take whatever they want from whoever they want to without anyone to stop them. Living of the scraps of the old world society is looking for a hero. They may just find it in the MFP, the cops that are the only thing holding society together. When he loses everything one man travels the wastelands looking those responsible. Is he looking for redemption or just revenge? Sound familiar? A reboot of the first movie could start a whole new series of movies. But here is the twist, set in a different part of Australia with a different biker gang and more importantly a new character to replace Max. Mel Gibson is Max, anyone replacing him will have to emulate his performance, a new character would give an opportunity for a new young actor to emerge.
Whatever happens one thing is certain if there is a Mad Max movie directed by George Miller I will be watching it.