It isn’t often that a film reboot is actually made by the same writer and director, but Australian born filmmaker George Miller decided it was time to go back to the film series that put Mel Gibson on the map. The first Mad Max came out in 1979, in a not too distant apocalyptic future where society is on the brink of complete collapse. Gibson plays the role of police officer Max, who loses his best friend, wife and son to a murderous gang of criminals, in his journey of vengeance and inevitable insanity as a man with nothing to lose. Miller went on to write and direct a further two films in the Mad Max universe; The Road Warrior and Beyond Thunderdome (1981 and 1985 respectively). But it has taken almost 30 years for another film in the series.
Back in 1998, George Miller was crossing the road in Los Angeles when he had an idea for a fourth film set in the Australian outback. By the time he reached the other side of the road, he thought to abandon the idea. At this point, Miller had said all he had to say about a post-apocalyptic world where the last remaining humans fought over gasoline. But a year later the idea grew, and instead of fuel, this time the gangs fought over control of human beings. Just as things started to come together, shooting was scheduled to take place in 2001 but 9/11 happened, the resulting collapse of the American dollar to the Australian dollar led to incredible hikes in production costs, to the point where it was no longer a viable project. With Mad Max on the back burner, Miller turned his attention to Happy Feet instead, a little more family friendly film.
With Mad Max Fury Road hitting the cinemas, a title has never been more fitting to how difficult the road has been to get this film made. Having taken over 17 years before production even began, there were plenty more obstacles for Miller to navigate. When the fourth Mad Max was ready to move into production, problems developed in Mel Gibson’s personal life; arrested for drink driving, altercation with a police officer, as well as anti-Semitic rants, Max went a little too Mad. Miller then turned his attention to a new lead, as his vision of Mad Max was still young, so Heath Ledger was considered before his untimely death in 2008.
The lead role eventually went to Tom Hardy, the English actor who first graced the big screen in 2001’s Black Hawk Down, before starring in a string of hugely successful roles such as Bronson (2008), Inception (2010) and then as Batman’s nemesis Bane in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises in 2012. With everything in place to start filming in 2010, Miller wanted to return to his native Australian outback but found that the once arid, desolate desert was now a lush and fertile land due to the first flood in years. Switching location to the Namibia desert in Africa, a 1200 mile stretch of barren land which is mostly uninhabited, proved to be a challenging task for the 1700 strong cast and crew. Five months later and the film was finally wrapped, and being the traditional action film director he is, George Miller insisted on using very little CGI and green screen, instead opting for practical stunts in a hostile Namibian desert.
After a 30 year hiatus from the Mad Max universe, and having taken a slight family-friendly detour on the way on projects Babe: Pig in the City and Happy Feet, George Miller is finally ready to return to the gritty, violent post-apocalyptic world of Mad Max. This time with Tom Hardy as Max and Charlize Theron as truck driver Furiosa in an attempt to save human slaves captured by gang leader Immorten Joe played by Hugh Keays-Byrne.
Mad Max Fury Road hit the cinema the 15th of May this year.