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Five Reasons We Want Mad Max Back

April 19, 2012

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I originally wrote this for the late, lamented Screengrab nearly four years ago. But with Mel Gibson’s craziness back in the news, and rumors that the fourth Mad Max movie may finally go into production soon, I have resurrected this post with the help of the Wayback Machine.

Two action heroes in hibernation since the ’80s have recently awoken, claimed their AARP discount cards and gone back to work on the big screen, but a third remains in retirement. We now know there’s still an audience for Rambo and (especially) Indiana Jones, even if their respective returns have been met with a tepid critical reaction. Of course, we already knew that nostalgia is one of the most powerful elements on the periodic table, which would be reason enough for the Powers That Be to bring Mad Max out of cold storage. But after taking another look at The Road Warrior recently, I think our old favorite wanderer of the wasteland has a little more to offer than a rehash of the glory days. Here are five reasons why I’d shell out my hard-earned cash for Mad Max 4.

Relevance. The original trio of Indiana Jones movies were a recreation of the old matinee serials, and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a recreation of the recreation. Rambo is long past his sell-by date as a Cold War avenger, and the attempt at bringing him up to date by involving him in the Burmese genocide was greeted as forced at best and offensive at worst. Now let’s look at the world of Mad Max as seen in The Road Warrior : hmm, desert tribes warring over the last remaining supplies of gasoline? In these days of $4.00 per gallon at the pumps, I think we can work with that. It doesn’t have to be an all-out Iraq allegory, although those overtones would be hard to avoid. Surely we can all relate to the concept of scavenging for fuel. Who among us has not fantasized about hijacking a tanker full of petrol in recent months?

Getting Beyond “Beyond Thunderdome.” The third and so far final Mad Max movie, Beyond Thunderdome had its moments, mainly the beginning and the end – also known as “the parts George Miller directed.” (Miller did the action scenes, turning the rest of the film over to George Ogilvie.) Most Max fans would probably rather forget the plotline involving the lost tribe of children, an overtly Spielbergian turn of events that doesn’t mesh well with the gear-grinding post-apocalyptic vibe of the series. But it’s easy enough to ignore this episode – the continuity between the three films is rough, anyway. A good parallel would be Sergio Leone’s Dollars trilogy: how about a Mad Max equivalent of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly? Hell, you could bring in two new characters and have Max be “The Ugly,” which brings us to…

The Mel Gibson Factor. Gibson has been conspicuously absent from the screen (as an actor, that is), and with good reason. Given all the controversies of recent years, there may not be many lead characters that audiences would be willing to accept Gibson playing. Because, you know, he’s crazy. So what better role than an aged Max Rockatansky, 20 years further down the road to nowhere? Imagine Gibson with his big ol’ mad prophet beard, more legend than man, the lone remnant of a long-dead civilization no one else believes in anymore. I tell ya, it could work! Rumors of Mad Max 4: Fury Road keep resurfacing, some with Gibson as a participant, some without. I say he’s got to be there, even if he’s not the lead. He could even send up his drunk driving arrest…well, okay, maybe not.

Real Automotive Mayhem.
Our own Andrew Osborne covered this in his recent CGI rant: “Why are high speed car chases with actual cars (and trucks and motorcycles and gyrocopters) better than computerized car action? Gee, I don’t know…maybe the same reason sex with an actual human being is better than internet porn?” Naturally, we must insist that CGI be used sparingly in any Mad Max reboot. We want to smell the exhaust pouring off the screen.

No More Penguins. If George Miller gets involved in a new Mad Max movie, it will keep him from making a sequel to Happy Feet. It’s not that we don’t love adorable penguins, but we need a break. Look, I’m not saying a Mad Max sequel is a necessity – none of these revivals are. But this is one action hero’s return I’d greet with more than just a shrug.

 

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