Mad Max (1979)

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Director: George Miller

Cast: Mel Gibson, Joanne Samuel, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Steve Bisley, Tim Burns, Roger Ward

Screenplay: James McCausland, George Miller

88 mins. Rated R.

 

Legends get passed down from generation to generation, but a legend is only as good as the storyteller who tells it. The storyteller can make a legend. The storyteller can break a legend. Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson, Braveheart, The Expendables 3) is the stuff of legends, as is the series that defined his status.

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In Mad Max, the first in the series created by George Miller (Happy Feet Two, Babe: Pig in the City), we meet Max Rockatansky as a normal man. In the later films, he is presented as a myth, but here we see Max as a vengeful and angry man looking for justice in a world that no longer contains it. He plays cat-and-mouse and mouse-and-cat with the malicious Toecutter (Hugh Keays-Byrne, Moby Dick, Sleeping Beauty) as he loses everything close to him.

It’s hard to discuss Mad Max without spoilering a lot, but I’m going to try to get through it. George Miller absolutely commands this film and creates a wild and wily experience with some truly incredible action sequences. He also creates a likable flawed hero and a disturbed monstrous villain in Toecutter.

What sets Mad Max apart from the later films in the series is that the sequels are told from someone else’s perspective, whereas Mad Max is an origin story to a legend. It creates a character that is relatable as he slowly becomes larger than life.

Mel Gibson isn’t at his best here, but his skills develop as his performance progresses. George Miller gives him plenty to play with, though.

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Mad Max is worth seeing for its insanity. This film is pure insanity. It is the weakest of the franchise to this point, but it works as an origin story and a story of revenge very well. No one will tell you it is perfect, but it is the strangest cheese that sometimes tastes the best.

 

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

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