It’s been 30 years since the “Mad Max” series has had an entry. In a lot of ways, the new “Mad Max: Fury Road” can stand on its own: All you need to know is it’s the post-apocalypse and reluctant hero Max Rockatansky — now played by Tom Hardy, taking over for an old/disgraced Mel Gibson — doesn’t like people and is very good at beating them up/driving vehicles. That said, with only four films, it’s one of the most singular franchises, and one that can shape-shift while still expanding its unique world. Here are some ways it impacted movies and culture, and some ways it should have impacted it more.
Let’s get this out of the way. Terrible people can be great artists, and no matter his deep, numerous personal demons, Mel Gibson is a great actor and was, when he was on top, a great movie star. Thing is, he broke through with a series that didn’t exactly play to his main talents: his personality, which is better melded with the action genre in “Lethal Weapon.” But he’s also great at withholding said personality, bottling it up so that he may go nuts on those who’ve wronged him. Max is just that man, so traumatized that he’s a single-minded avenger and loner whose innate goodness has been buried deep down by rage.