We are less than two weeks from the UK release of Mad Max Fury Road. A film that has been in production for what seems like ever. There were rumours of a fourth film as long ago as Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985). I wrote about it five years ago with an expected release in 2012 or 2013. I picked up the story in 2012, beyond the time when the film should have been released, it hadn’t even begun shooting. They should have started primary location filming in Broken Hill, New South Wales, the same as the original movies. Production was first delayed by heavy rain, then a big decision was taken. The unprecedented rain turned the desolate desert landscape into a lush green and flower filled garden making it aesthetically unsuitable. Production moved to Namibia. Anyone who has seen Richard Stanley’s B movie masterpiece Dust Devil will know that it will make a suitable alternative.
By this time the cast was largely in place with Tom Hardy will be taking over from Mel Gibson as the eponymous antihero Max Rockatansky and Charlize Theron with a well publicised shaved head in an unnamed but significant role. Young up and coming actors Nicholas Hoult, Zoë Kravitz, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Riley Keough (granddaughter of Elvis and Priscilla Presley) were also cast. The big question was if Mel Gibson would cameo. Ultimately, it appears he won’t.
At the time the plot was kept under wraps but the implication was that the film would be a direct sequel following on from Beyond Thunderdome. This seemed plausible in one way as Hardy is a little older than Gibson was in 1985. However pre production shots and video keep showing Max’s 1973 Ford Falcon XB GT “Pursuit Special”, the car that was destroyed in the second film. This led to speculation that the film would be set between the first and second films or a reboot. At the time I suggested a middle ground, rather than reboot the series, make a new series with new character, similar to Max but not Max, set around the same time in a different part of Australia.
It was finally revealed last year that it would be a reboot. Director George Miller suggesting too much time had passed for a sequel and there would be too many continuity issues and creativity restrictions to set a film between any of the existing films. Interestingly he hasn’t gone back to the beginning of the story, this makes a lot of sense. The events of the first film are integral to the character, but why return after thirty years to retell the same story. This suggests the film could be a direct sequel to Mad Max rebooting Max Max 2. One of the most interesting things about the film is the casting of Hugh Keays-Byrne as Immortan Joe. A new big bad in the vein of The Humungus from Mad Max 2. Fans of the original Mad Max trilogy will know Keays-Byrne as “Toecutter” the head of the biker gang. Are the two characters connected?
George Miller has compared the finished film to westerns and has said he intended it to be an almost a continuous chase. This sounds very much like the second part of Mad Max 2. The best thing is his claim that 90% of the effects were practical. If done effectively, this could result in a truly exciting action movie a world away from the soulless and meaningless CGI we are used to from directors like Michael Bay. I will be there on 14th May and may even splash out for the Imax version, it’s just a shame it will be in 3D. If you aren’t as excited as me take a look at the trailer: