Mad Max was one of those movies that I did not see in theaters when it came out, only generating ‘buzz’ after it’s theatrical run. It remained a tantalizing curiosity for me until it’s sequel “Mad Max: The Road Warrior” was something of a hit two years later. After that, I just had to see the original, but it would be years before I came across a VHS tape.
Mad Max was Mel Gibson’s first notable big screen feature and to be honest, he isn’t all that great here. In fact, he’s more line Serene Max at first and only livens up towards the end of the movie. In a near future Australian outback setting, the police are not regulated and regimented, and in fact are sometimes as nasty as the thugs they should be policing (and wear the same leather jackets). Let’s just say you really don’t want to have the police on your tail in a highway chase. Especially Mad Max.
When a particular set of thugs maim and disfigure a fellow cop and then have the audacity to hunt down Mad Max’s family, the ‘Mad’ part of Max comes to the forefront, puts on his own Judge Dredd persona, and we are then treated to a frenzy of car chases, shootups and tons of action.
As I mentioned, the build-up is kind of slow and the movie only goes full throttle after the turning point upon which Mad Max is unleashed. While some of the action is top notch other aspects of the film seem low budget and cheesy, but still charmful. I particularly liked how they kept on zooming in on bulging the eyeballs of characters about to bite the dust.
Now I got to track down The Road Warrior and watch that one again. Maybe even stifle my loathing for Tina Turner and watch the third installment, Beyond Thunderdome. These last two feature a far grimmer dystopian future where cars and other contraptions rule a truly scorched Earth.