If "Mad Max" is "A Fistful Of Dollars" and "The Road Warrior" is "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly," then clearly "Fury Road" is George Miller's "Once Upon A Time In The West," the moment when his movies move from the archetypical to the profound.
It seems impossible that George Miller has been away from live-action for 17 years. Then again, nothing about George Miller's career has ever really fit into any typical model. I always think of him as part of the Class of '82, the directors whose work really crystallized in what I maintain is the greatest geek movie line-up of all time. Most of those guys came out of the system, either through the Roger Corman training program or moving from TV to movies, trained at southern California film schools so they all had similar skill sets. Miller was different, though. He was never really one of them. He made his first film independently, and before they'd even release it in the US, they dubbed over the Australian accents. In America, "The Road Warrior" put Miller on the map in a way that "Mad Max" had not, and when he contributed a segment to "Twilight Zone: The Movie," he was definitely the odd man out in terms of process, and his segment stood apart in terms of sheer visual overdrive.
Part of what made "The Road Warrior" so special was that it felt like it really had come from a completely alien culture. The film's Australian origins meant that no one in the film was familiar, and the sound of it was unlike anything made here. Our car culture movies were of the far more redneck variety, and no one here had ever made a film that felt like it moved at the same insane velocity as Miller's movie. These days, I hear people mention Gareth Evans, the director of "The Raid" and "The Raid 2," as a potential candidate for this or that franchise movie, and every single time, I wince. Honestly, part of the reason his movies are what they are is because he makes them in Indonesia with a stunt team that works in a totally different way than anyone here in the US, for both legal and creative reasons. The same was true of "The Road Warrior." Watching those stuntmen throw themselves off those cars and trucks and crashing those giant metal death chambers into each other, it felt like you were watching something forbidden and dangerous and insane.