John Hartl, in a 1982 review in the Seattle Times, placed “The Road Warrior” alongside “The Wild Bunch “and “The Seven Samurai” as the world’s greatest examples of classic action cinema. I was apprehensive about such a claim, but headed up to the Guild 45 nonetheless. The picture was worse than I expected. Nothing but moronic action sequences with idiotically costumed and made-up villains and crazy stupid car rebuilds. It was an out and out bore , and I thought Hartl a total spazz for thinking this crap was any good, and a perpetual dunce for mentioning it in the same breath as “The Wild Bunch.”
A few years passed, and I became a manager of the Harvard Square Theatre in Cambridge MA, where “The Road Warrior” was screened every Friday and Saturday at midnight. Many nights, after counting up the money and making the bank deposit, I would join the gang of ushers upstairs in Theatre #2 to watch the last half hour of the movie. Periodically, we would show a double feature of “Mad Max” and the “Road Warrior” downstairs in the main theatre. This is where I began to really appreciate the two pictures, although I never became fanatical over them.
It all ended with the release of “Mad Max 3: Beyond Thunderdome,” which put the franchise to rest forevermore. This piece of crap killed all interest in the further adventures of Max. Besides, Mel Gibson had gone on to higher class projects, and had lost his Australian accent to boot. Now, thirty years later, the world hates Mel Gibson’s guts, and Mad Max is back. I would not have bothered with it, but director George Miller was back as well, and I wondered why.
I am still wondering. “Mad Max 4 Fury Road” is a long skid mark on the diapers of modern cinema. This digital 3D reboot of “The Road Warrior” is even worse than “Beyond Thunderdome.” The damn thing has no beginning and no end and feels like being bounced around in a video road game for an eternity. There is nothing to enjoy. The stunts are all jack in the box CGI pop-ups, and the editing an impossible mess of 3D images that refuse to cut. There are no clean edges; it is all a jumble of blisters popping into one another. The characters in the earlier films were ridiculous, but you could at least tell one from the other. Not so here. And at the end, when actor Tom Hardy replies “Max” when asked his name, I answered “What? I thought Mad Max was the girl.”