Mad Max Movies Ranked

4. Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga (2024)

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga Review

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga brings this franchise’s story full circle – not only does it tie in neatly with the events of the fan favourite entry, Fury Road, but it’s an effective reflection of the original Mad Max: a transformation of an individual’s innocence into violent madness. After Charlize Theron’s kickass appearance in Fury Road, it was only natural to expand this crazy yet enthralling universe through its anti-heroine, this time through the performances of Alyla Browne and Anya Taylor-Joy. Together, they tell a story of conflicting grief and revenge, of hope and despair, proving to us that George Miller can still surprise us with the horrors of post-apocalyptic Australia and the deprivation it inflicts on its people.

As previous instalments of this saga have been extremely succinct in their storytelling, it was beyond gratifying to enjoy the expansion of Mad Max’s world and the hoard of grotesque characters it contains. The revisitation of Immortan Joe and his War Boys gives a more in-depth reveal of this world’s politics – one that is barely held together above the level of mindless anarchy, represented by the gloriously hammy Chris Hemsworth as Dementus. Although his representation of cult of personality and theocracy was a little on the nose, his depravity with lingering humanity is a welcome edition to this franchise’s villains.

It is impossible for George Miller to not orchestrate insanely entertaining car chases and fight scenes (with Mad Max 2 being one of the greatest action films ever made), but there is something undeniably lacklustre in Furiosa’s action, especially compared to its immediate predecessor. The increased use of CGI in a franchise where practical effects are often marvelled at clearly has a huge impact on the overall perceived quality of the film. Compounded with a bloated run-time, in which too many plot points were included within a single narrative, Furiosa has a smaller impact than is expected from an entry into the George Miller canon.

A sting in the tail remains, with the exacting of Furiosa’s revenge alongside other shock-horror moments keeping the Mad Max reputation intact, and this is complimented by the unceasing brutality of the franchise and the compelling performances it encourages from its newcomers, particularly Chris Hemsworth. The continuation of the Mad Max saga is safe, as Furiosa leaves us crying out for more.

How Mad is Max? 

Probably really mad, but this isn’t his movie.

3. Mad Max (1979)

For many younger audiences whose first introduction to the Mad Max series was Fury Road, Mad Max definitely falls under the purview of the TV Trope “Early Instalment Weirdness”. Naturally, it is the first movie that introduces defining elements of the whole franchise – the dystopian nature of the world, insane motorbike and car stunts, bloody violence, Hugh Keays-Byrne, random saxophone playing, Max Rockatansky’s unwilling involvement in a wild chain of events, and of course his unquenchable thirst for vengeance – but it can’t be denied that this film has a completely different tone and pace from the rest of the series.

Newcomers may very well be flabbergasted by an incredibly slow-moving first half with a Max that is nowhere near the most enigmatic character on screen – Mel Gibson’s Mad Max is initially a big blue-eyed romantic who willingly bends to the letter of the law and not at all the anti-hero we expect him to be. In the midst of this confusion, we then suffer devastating whiplash as the film’s entire plot unfolds within the last twenty minutes at a neck-breaking pace, leaving us with breathtaking results.

A work of genius or insanity? The answer is: a bit of both.

Mad Max’s transformation of pace and the intensity of Max’s character arc result in an ending that pays off the almost agonising build up a thousand times over – the label of “Cinematic Masterpiece” wouldn’t go amiss in this context.

Whether Mad Max is your introduction to the series or not, the film feels incomplete (which isn’t a huge surprise as this movie is a definitive example of guerrilla filmmaking on a shoestring budget). In this sense, Mad Max is more akin to the prequel movie of a main series, like what X-Men Origins: Wolverine is to X-Men, and in watching this 1979 release in retrospect, so much more is expected from the story than what Mad Max gives us – it’s a terrific introduction that leaves us thirsty for more, but lacks the overarching intensity that the Mad Max franchise has come to be known for.

How mad is Max?

This is the movie where you can find Max at both his sanest and craziest. We go from a traditional (albeit boring) hero who likes nothing better than being sweet to his wife, to a cold-blooded and merciless killing machine. You can even pinpoint the moment in those big blue eyes where you see his mind snap.

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  • <cite class="fn">MatSir</cite>

    Great catch on the uneven pupils! I couldn’t believe how many people called me crazy when I mentioned it. (Okay I couldn’t believe how many people that knew me called me crazy *just* about that.) I also loved pointing out that he was probably wearing a breechclout because the seat of his pants was worn through.

    It may be the age difference, but for me it’s always the original in the #1 slot. It is so skillfully done. The bare budget and unknown (to me) actors giving the hero’s break with civilization/morality relatable feel. For me, the car chases were more filler than plot.

    On a trivia side note: a ?Japanese? fan once told me that the original could be watched and understood without the dialogue. When I watched it again, I realized she was right – the movie could have been about a samurai, knight or almost any kind of a society protector-warrior broken by repercussions from their vocation.

    Keep it going, kiddo. Looking forward to more generation spanning reviews!

    • <cite class="fn">Katie D</cite>

      Thank you so much for your comment!! Yeah the uneven pupils were such a great touch cos of course he got whacked on the bonce in no.2

      I totally get your love for the original, its where it all started and it really hurt to put it in third place.

      I meant it when I said it was a masterpiece cos for me endings are everything so the original Mad Max blew me out of the water

  • <cite class="fn">Alan Koslowski</cite>

    Great article and mostly I agree with your rankings. While an argument can be made for Fury Road as series’ best, for me there just isn’t enough story despite the thrilling action.

    Granted, the plot of The Road Warrior is pretty simple, but there’s more story and it’s more than just an exhilarating and exhausting chase film that Fury Road seems to be,

    I think I actually like Beyond Thunder a little more than Mad Max. I guess I appreciate Thunderdome’s ambition even though it’s oft unfocused, disjointed, and sometimes pretentious. About half of it works really well while the other half is a mess. Mad Max was essentially just a fun Grindhouse movie; enjoyable, but slight. I agree though, they’re the worst films in the serious.

    • <cite class="fn">Katie Doyle</cite>

      Thank you Alan! It’s ways a good feeling to see someone agree with your ranking :D

      Road Warrior certainly does have more meat on its bones which is why indeed it trumps Fury Road, but it was still very difficult to put these films in an order as I absolutely adore them all, even “the worst” of the franchise! Thunderdome and Mad Max are on the bottom but they are still iconic films!

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