Unlike the second MAD MAX, THE ROAD WARRIOR, which had far better distribution in the U.S. than the limited arthouse release of MAD MAX, this third MAD MAX movie offers no opening narration or catch-up time from the second. You are either a fan of at least MAD MAX: THE ROAD WARRIOR or you're a newbie. Either way, MAD MAX: BEYOND THUNDERDOME starts out in a manner where the main character of Max needs no backstory. He's following in the tradition of the anti-heroic No Name, like The Man With No Name of Italian westerns.
Such men have heroism forced upon them while they were living their own lives. BEYOND THUNDERDOME begins with a camel driver deep in the desert of the Australian outback. The wagon his camels pull is filled with bric-a-brac: Probably junk to sell and goods he needs.
From the credits the movie opens to the curve of the earth and the seemingly endless expanse of the Austrailian desert. A Raider from the sky, flying a claptrap plane, swings down and gets the drop on the camel driver. The Plane Captain Jedediah (Bruce Spence: THE CARS THAT ATE PARIS, MAD MAX: THE ROAD WARRIOR, DARK CITY, QUEEN OF THE DAMNED, THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS), along with his very young son, steal the camel driver's wagon and leave him to die. The Camel driver is, of course, Mad Max. The pilot and his son Jedediah Jr. (Adam Cockburn) exult like any predators in the success of their hunt.
In the course of this twisted tale, Max sets out to retrieve what belongs to him and winds up getting involved in a political dispute in the pioneer village of Bartertown, created and led by Auntie Entity (Tina Turner: TOMMY).
In BEYOND THUNDERDOME, Max is no longer mad. He's no longer anything but a beaten man living from one day to the next out in the great wastelands, just as Papagallo in THE ROAD WARRIOR foresaw. Any heroic thing Max may have done for anyone is forgotten by all but those small few who survive, and none of them know his name. Max has vanished in his own legend and is smaller than anyone who may remember him.
Max isn't the man he used to be and, knowing what made him that man, he doesn't care to return to it.
Yet despite having given up, he remains quick, lethal, and nobody's fool. As an outsider, those first two qualities are exactly what Auntie Entity is looking for.
Finding his stuff for sale in Bartertown but unable to buy it back, Max strikes a bargain with Auntie Entity, and becomes a contestant in The Thunderdome, fighting against the Blaster (Paul Larsson: ALTERED STATES), who is led by the dwarf Master (Angelo Rossito: THE HOUSE OF HORROR, FREAKS, SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES). But Max's adventures are far from over there. Soon in the desert, beyond Thunderdome, Max discovers a group of children - "The Waity Ones" - living deep in Crack In the Earth: a forgotten oasis. It's not far from where their rescue plane was unfortunate enough to crash, lo these many moons ago. That was before civilization died out completely: Before the cities burned.
They call themselves, The Tribe.
Their surviving parents left to find help, promising to return. But no one ever returns from the great desert, and the children have been waiting the long years for rescue from the mysterious Captain Walker. They believe Max is that man.
Though this is a Kennedy Miller production, Director, George Miller (MAD MAX, MAD MAX: THE ROAD WARRIOR, TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE) took over the Producing reigns with this one, and dedicated it to his late filmmaking partner, Byron Kennedy.*
George shared writing credit with Terry Hayes (DEAD CALM, FROM HELL), but also shared (the unusual act of) directing credit with George Ogilvie. Co-directing is rarely intentional.
George Miller was so devastated by the death of his friend Byron, that he didn't want to make the movie, finally agreeing to direct the action sequences.
What rolls out onto the screen is perhaps the most beautiful and best of an already emotionally wrenching, powerful series. MAD MAX: BEYOND THUNDERDOME, finishes the only perfect action cinema trilogy in existence. You will be both rocked and touched.
5 Shriek Girls
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