George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road was a game-changer for contemporary filmmaking.
The 2015 film drew in audiences under the guise of being a reboot to the Mel Gibson-starring films of the 1970s and 80s. What those audiences walked away with was a complex, character-driven story about two people fighting for freedom, with Charlize Theron’s Furiosa playing co-lead to Tom Hardy’s Max. The all-star cast and crew created a film that showed dynamic character arcs, the best of worldbuilding, and how to surprise even the most knowledgeable audience member.
If you love Fury Road as much as we do, and can’t wait for the prequel that’s currently in the works, we’ve compiled a list for you of movies like Mad Max: Fury Road that tap into what makes the Miller movie unique.
Mad Max 1979, and the 80s sequels
If you love Fury Road, then going back and watching the originals is an absolute MUST. While you won’t have a great heroine like Furiosa, you will get a chance to check out how expansive this world can be, and how it’s evolved over decades on the big screen.
Charlize Theron and action movies truly are a beautiful pairing, and one of her first outings in one may be her most overlooked. She’s out-driven the men in films The Italian Job, The Fate of the Furious, and Fury Road, but Aeon Flux signaled years earlier that this was a woman who wanted to play in big worlds.
The Book of Eli
Set in another post-apocalyptic world, this one with a neo-western style, The Book of Eli stars Denzel Washington as the titular character, who roams a wasteland 30 years after a nuclear holocaust. Much like Furiosa, Eli is on a singular mission that impacts him on a spiritual level.
Although Ex Machina is smaller-scale than Fury Road, it's gripping for anyone who likes immersive science fiction.
Caleb (Domnhall Gleeson) is brought to a quirky scientist’s (Oscar Isaac) home, deep in the woods, to determine if the robot (Alicia Vikander) the scientist created can pass the Turing test. The entire film sits on a tense and bizarre needle, and never loses balance.
Waterworld is both similar to, and the antithesis of, Mad Max.
Where Fury Road takes place is a world running out of water, Waterworld is overrun with it. Humans move around on fuel-run boats and jet skis in search of the mythical Dryland.
If you’re looking for something more light-hearted than the bulk of this dramatic fare, seek out Tank Girl, starring Lori Petty and directed by Rachel Talalay. It’s based on the comic series from Jamie Hewlett, and written by Alan Martin.
The film bombed when it debuted in 1995 but has since become a cult classic, partially thanks to the awesome soundtrack assembled by Courtney Love. If you die for Coma-Doof Warrior (aka the blind guitarist) in Fury Road, you’ll probably die for Tank Girl, too.
2012’s Dredd has been growing a cult following after a poor showing at the box office, and you should jump into this fandom.
Written and produced by Alex Garland (Annihilation, Ex-Machina), it’s adapted from the 2000 AD comic strip Judge Dredd. In the film, Dredd is played by The Boys’ Karl Urban.
If you’re looking for a great woman to root for in the film too, you’ll find that in Olivia Thirlby, Dredd’s mentee in a world where “judges” are given brutal, deadly license.
Thirlby’s Judge Anderson may seem young and inexperienced as she’s new on the job, but the audience quickly sees the trauma she’s holding in, her complex characterization, and a power she’s learning to tap into. Ultimately, she's a fantastic heroine on par with Furiosa.
I Am Legend
This selection may hit a little too close to home for 2021 audiences, but that doesn’t make it any less fantastic and a great choice if you’re looking for post-apocalyptic fare.
It centers on virologist Robert Neville (Will Smith), who has survived a plague that wiped out most of humanity. He’s immune to the virus, and working to find a cure while fighting mutants ravaging the world around him.
If you’re a fan of this film, you should also check out 1964’s The Last Man on Earth (not to be confused with the TV show, though that’s a great watch if you’re looking for a humorous take) and 1971’s The Omega Man. Both are based on the 1954 novel, I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson.
Death Race 2000
This throwback was made in 1975, and stars David Carradine as 'Frankenstein,' a racer in a dystopian America in the year 2000.
The film is based on the short story “The Racer” by Ib Melchior, and centers on the violent Transcontinental Road Race, which is not unlike the road battle Furiosa and Max find themselves on.
There are definitely moments in Death Race that seem outdated today, but isn’t fun to see what people from decades past thought the world would look like today? Or, in this case, 2000?
Escape from LA
This campy, 1996 post-apocalyptic action film is a must-watch for any fans of the genre.
After an earthquake causes flooding so intense that the city becomes an island, the president declares it a punishment for the sinful by God. The film reimagines the United States as a theocratic totalitarian state, and features Kurt Russell as the renegade Snake Plissken.
If post-apocalyptic movies are for you, move out of Fury Road’s desert and into the frigid bullet train of Snowpiercer.
In Snowpiercer's dystopian world, the closer to the front of the train you are, the higher your class in society, with the poorest people working at the opposite end and forced to subsist on disgusting bricks of protein.
When one of the young children is “chosen”, a small group of revolutionaries fight to get the kid back, physically moving up through society’s ranks.
The cast includes Lord of the Rings’ Hugo Weaving and Bridgerton’s Regé-Jean Page, and the film is produced and co-written by Peter Jackson. After the “Sixty Minute War," entire cities are now mobile, with larger cities hunting and taking the resources of smaller cities.