Every Mad Max movie, ranked

Charlize Theron as Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
(Image credit: Alamy)

In 1979, George Miller first introduced audiences to Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson), a police officer working for the Main Force Patrol (MFP) in a dystopian, near-future Australia. After the tragic murder of his family by a biker gang, Max snaps and takes the law into his own hands, seeking vengeance against those who crossed him. Made for under $400,000, “Mad Max” grossed $100 million, kicking off one of the best action franchises ever. 

Miller returns to the Wasteland in “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga,” a prequel to 2015’s “Fury Road.” Early reviews from Cannes have been positive, with “Furiosa” registering 85% on Rotten Tomatoes. Like its predecessors, “Furiosa” has been praised for its technical prowess, proving that no one stages action scenes and chase sequences quite like Miller. With the addition of “Furiosa,” there have been five “Mad Max” movies. We ranked them below, from "worst" to first. 

5. ‘Max Max Beyond Thunderdome’

“Max Max Beyond Thunderdome” movie is informally known as “The One with Tina Turner” or “The Last One with Mel Gibson.” After his vehicle is stolen, Max (Gibson) strolls into Bartertown, a trading post founded by the town’s ruler, Aunty Entity (Turner). A deal with Aunty goes haywire, forcing Max to become a gladiator and fight against a giant bodyguard inside the Thunderdome, The Blaster (Paul Larsson). After the fight, Max is dumped into the Wasteland, where he befriends a group of children who help him return to Bartertown and take on Aunty. 

Max teaming with the children storyline still doesn’t quite work. However, Turner’s performance holds up, dialing up the charisma to excel as the eccentric villain. Additionally, the Thunderdome sequences are extremely entertaining. ("Two Men Enter, One Man Leaves.”) “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” is not a bad movie. There are simply better “Mad Max” movies. 

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4. ‘Mad Max’

The movie that started the franchise was “Mad Max.” With society barely hanging on by a thread, Max (Gibson) is one of the last police officers in a dystopian Australia. After Max kills a member of a biker gang, the sinister crew responds by killing Max’s family. Hellbent on revenge, Max becomes a ruthless vigilante, wandering the Wasteland and hunting down the bikers who took everything from him. 

While the themes of survival and freedom are prevalent throughout the five films, the action sequences and cinematography in “Mad Max” differ from future entries, mainly due to the budgets. While “Fury Road” and “Furiosa” were made for over $150 million, “Mad Max” had a budget of around $350,000. “Mad Max” is more of a gritty revenge thriller than an action-packed chase movie. However, Miller still manages to stage excellent pursuit sequences and car crashes in “Mad Max,” setting the stage for future entries. 

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3. ‘Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga’

After “Mad Max: Fury Road,” Miller could have walked away from the franchise, and no one would have blamed him. How do you follow up on a masterpiece? Well, Miller chose to explore the origins of Imperator Furiosa for a prequel. Set 15 to 20 years before the events in “Fury Road,” Furiosa (Anya Taylor-Joy) is abducted by the warlord Dementus (Chris Hemsworth), who then proceeds to kill the girl's mother. As Dementus battles Imortan Joe (Lachy Hulme) for Wasteland supremacy, Furiosa seeks retribution as she fights to make it home to the “Green Place of Many Mothers.” 

“Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” is a revenge thriller told over many years, a huge change from “Fury Road,” a nonstop chase movie told over three days. With Miller at the helm, the action is still magnificent in “Furiosa,” with Taylor-Joy instantly becoming an iconic action heroine. 

"Furiosa" arrives in theaters on May 24

2. ‘Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior’

Following “Mad Max,” Miller followed the sequel playbook to a T in “Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior.” Thanks to a larger budget, “Mad Max 2” is bigger, louder, and more action-packed than its predecessor. What’s more impressive is the quality of “The Road Warrior,”  a massive upgrade over an already-great film in “Mad Max.” In the sequel, Max (Gibson) continues to roam the Australian Wasteland in search of food and gasoline. When Max stumbles upon an oil refinery, he makes a deal with the community of survivors. 

In exchange for his car and fuel, Max agrees to drive their oil tanker full of gasoline to safety away from a murderous biker gang led by Lord Humungus (Kjell Nilsson). No one stages a chase sequence better than Miller, as “Mad Max 2” became a groundbreaking moment in stunts and special effects. The action sequences in “Mad Max 2” planted the seeds for what Miller would eventually do in the first film on this list. 

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1. ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’

If “Mad Max 2” is Miller’s groundbreaking moment as a filmmaker, “Fury Road” is his masterpiece. Max, now played by Tom Hardy, remains a drifter in The Wasteland, still grieving over the loss of his wife and child. Max finds himself in the middle of a conflict between the Wasteland’s tyrannical ruler, Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), and his top lieutenant, Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron). In an armored truck known as the War Rig, Furiosa flees the Citadel with Joe’s five wives to escape tyranny and find her home, the “Green Place.” Max reluctantly joins Furiosa as they embark on a lengthy, high-speed chase across the barren desert. 

“Fury Road” is one of the most impressive feats of filmmaking ever depicted on screen. The entire road battle is enthralling, a shining example of god-tier stuntwork and technical effects. Hardy shines as Max, but Theron steals the show, cementing Furiosa’s status as an iconic action hero. Winner of six Oscars, “Fury Road” is on the shortlist for the greatest action film of the 21st century. 

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Dan Girolamo

Dan is a talented content creator who specializes in pop culture, entertainment, and sports. His entertainment interviews have been featured on Digital Trends, where he has spoken with various actors and entertainers, including Brendan Fraser, Alison Brie, and James Cameron. Additionally, Dan is a sportswriter with The Sports Daily, breaking down the top news in the NFL and NBA while providing picks and predictions for each league. Other bylines include ComingSoon.net, Unafraid Show, Fansided, and WatchMojo. When he’s not working, Dan enjoys rooting for his favorite New York sports teams and watching the latest movie from Christopher Nolan or Martin Scorsese.