Another reason why Mel Gibson should quit while he’s ahead, franchise-wise. This $12 million production is a poor follow-up to the previous two classics and a sadly unconvincing end to Gibson’s Mad Max celluloid career.
Civilisation is burned out, and so is Max. Looking like a long-haired beggar in a Cecil B. DeMille Biblical epic, he wanders into Bartertown looking for his stolen camel train.
Bartertown is a medieval jumble of pipes and tunnels in an old strip mine run by Tina Turner as Aunty Entity – a kind of jive-ass priestess of the camp who rules her slaves in a tight gown made of chicken wire and dog muzzles. When filming ended, one assumes she re-used her wardrobe in Vegas.
The town gets its energy from distilled pig manure, and to get his possessions back, Max must exchange 24 hours of his life and survive not only a dunk in the pig manure but a visit to the Thunderdome.
This is a caged circus arena in which two combatants settle their disputes and avoid wars by meeting hand-to-hand with spikes, chainsaws, and no rules, compered by an Australian Howard Cosell who shouts to the bloodthirsty crowd: “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, dyin’ time is here!”
Narrowly escaping death at the four hands of something called the Master Blaster (Paul Larsson), Max is next rescued from a place of sandstorms and earthquakes called The Crack in the Earth by a desert tribe of feral warrior children descended from the survivors of a plane crash.
They all end up in a post-apocalyptic demolition derby, pursued by Tina Turner and the tattooed freaks of Bartertown, smashing planes, locomotives, motorcycles, and jeeps made of scrap metal and buggy wheels.
Of course, none of this makes any sense, so just sit back and enjoy looking at the pictures. Imagination is all that counts in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, and there is plenty of it.
It’s a world unto itself, with its own laws (“Bust the deal, face the wheel!”) and its own philosophy (“Remember – no matter where you go, there you are”). The violence and horror and carnage are abundant (it’s pretty noisy, too) but it all finally becomes funny.
Acting is the last thing on anybody’s mind, but Mel Gibson gets through it without smiling, and Tina Turner, as the barbaric queen of Bartertown, is Grace Jones with soul food.
Ton Ton Tattoo