Mad Max

1979, Movie, R, 90 mins

Review

MAD MAX
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Australia exported this creative, original, exciting, low-budget genre landmark which gave the young Mel Gibson his first starring role. Set in the near future, MAD MAX presents a society descending into chaos. The forces of law and order are barely holding their own. The highways are terrorized by packs of lunatic speed demons. Gibson plays Max, a good cop who's fed up with his job. After chasing crazed criminals for years and seeing so many of his buddies killed in action, he just wants to retire and spend the rest of his days with his wife and child. His chief tries to bribe him with a new, faster police car ("the last of the V-8s"). He attempts to flatter him by telling him that he's the last of the heroes but Max isn't buying. The boss tells him to take a vacation and he does. Spending an idyllic week with his family on the beach, he decides to put away his badge and uniform for good. But this is not to be. A psychotic gang of road rats kills Gibson's wife and child in revenge for the death of one of their members. Left with nothing to live for, Gibson turns avenger, dons his black leather uniform, fuels up his V-8, and hits the road.

Though the plot is that of a simple revenge western, director George Miller infuses the film with a kinetic combination of visual style, amazing stunt work, creative costume design, and eccentric, detailed characterizations that practically jump out of the screen and grab the viewer by the throat. Miller, whose inspiration was comic books, serials, and B westerns, has created some of the most stunning car-chase/crash-and-burn scenes ever put on film. At this point in his career, Miller is a filmmaker who seems to have just discovered the exciting possibilities of composition, camera movement, and editing, and uses them to their most powerful effect, bringing movement back to the movies. Done independently with a laughably small budget (Miller edited most of the film in his bedroom), MAD MAX went on to make more money in Australia than George Lucas's STAR WARS. The American distributors, however, didn't quite know what to do with the film and stupidly dubbed lousy American-sounding voices over the Australians'. An even better sequel, THE ROAD WARRIOR (MAD MAX II in Australia), followed, and a third film, MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME, was released four years later. leave a comment

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