Mad Max (1979)

MadMazAusThis is where it all began and honestly, I knew so little about it. You have Mel Gibson and about everyone else is unknown to me. But that’s fun because they are a population that’s made up of clean slates. I have no expectations for them so they’re constantly engaging me and altering my expectations. Australia’s Outback is not quite apocalyptic yet, but we’re on the road there soon enough, with bleak roads and gasoline shortages. Likewise, Max Rackatansky has not quite taken his name to heart. He needs to go through hell first, and that’s where this film leads.

Max and his best bud Goose are Main Force Patrol officers who work for the highway patrol. They soon are chasing after the crazed gang member “Nightrider,” who is looking to outrun his pursuers in a stolen vehicle. But Max waits patiently for his prey and then strikes after his colleagues are knocked out. But despite the demise of “Nightrider,” his motorcycle gang lead by Toecutter continue to ravage the roads. They commit rape, partake in all kinds of destruction, and raise fear in anyone who gets in their way, because of their sheer unpredictability.

The fiery Goose becomes an easy target for their mayhem, and he’s left a sitting duck. Not even his good friend Max can save him and with his friend gone our hero seems content to get away with his family. He doesn’t want to deal with the madness so he picks up and leaves on a vacation. Max takes his beautiful wife Jesse and their little baby, but of course, the gang crosses path with him once more, and yet again there’s nothing he can do. He’s too late. Max has a choice now: either do nothing or go on a mad rampage of vengeance. He chooses the latter.

George Miller shows his audience these events without holding our hands, simply placing them in front of us and allowing us to observe as if this is in fact cold hard reality. Despite what we might think, there is nothing strange or out of the ordinary about it. This is the way society works and once you buy into the adventure, it’s easy to get enraptured in the action. Although there are jumps in narrative most definitely, it is made engaging by a dystopian world and characters who have so many odd ticks and mannerisms. Perhaps more importantly, stunts, car chases, and crashes never feel like pointless eye candy, but they are executed with precision and impact that is impressive. There’s nothing cheesy about it. This is all grit and a lot of road rage.

3.5/5 Stars

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