A veteran cop, Murtaugh, is partnered with a young suicidal cop, Riggs. Both having one thing in common; hating working in pairs. Now they must learn to work with one another to stop a gang of drug smugglers.
Taking place in a dystopian Australia in the near future, Mad Max tells the story of a highway patrolman cruising the squalid back roads that have become the breeding ground of criminals foraging for gasoline and scraps. When his wife and child meet a grisly end at the hands of a motorcycle gang, Max sets out across the barren wastelands in search of revenge. Written by
Byron Kennedy and George Miller first took the film to Graham Burke of Roadshow, who was enthusiastic. The producers felt they would be unable to raise money from the government bodies "because Australian producers were making art films, and the corporations and commissions seemed to endorse them whole-heartedly", according to Kennedy. They designed a 40-page presentation, circulated it widely, and eventually raised the money. Kennedy and Miller also contributed funds themselves by doing three months of emergency medical calls, with Kennedy driving the car while Miller did the doctoring. See more »
During an early chase sequence the yellow police car can be seen upside down in two shots before it crashes. See more »
They say people don't believe in heroes anymore. Well damn them! You and me, Max, we're gonna give them back their heroes!
Ah, Fif. Do you really expect me to go for that crap?
You gotta admit I sounded good there for a minute, huh?
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"Mad Max" is one of those films that is on everyone's top film lists. Not only did it introduce us to Australian cinema, but also a young 21-year old newbie named Mel Gibson. "Mad Max" was dark, it was brooding, it was destructive, and it never gave us that glimmer of hope for humanity, but now - nearly 20 years later - does it still remain the classic that it started? Sure, it was impressive to watch the crash scenes, it was powerful to see the world through Mr. Miller's disturbed eyes, but is it re-watchable? Does it have the appeal to see new things throughout if watched and watched again? For me, the answer seemed to float near "no". While I loved what "Mad Max" represented, what it was
a full body of color and action - it wasn't something to be watched
again and again. Gibson does a great job as Max, a man torn between the evils of the road and his personal philosophies. He begins as an ominous optimist, able to stop crime as it occurs on the streets, but then as his sense of normality is turned upside down, his ability to react and adapt is seen. The final moments, he has transformed from the man we were first introduced to into something quite terrifying. One could also compliment Mr. Miller's directorial outing, at times it felt a bit episodic with tough edits placed, but for the majority he told a deathly story with great ease and excitement. So, again, there is no arguing that "Mad Max" is an important film, one that I am glad to have finally seen, but once was enough. It seems to be lacking that re-watch excitement.
But why has that conclusion been made? What makes "Mad Max" mediocre instead of powerful? It is hard to pinpoint the exact scene, but the sense of "alright, I've seen it - now what" was definitely present by the end. Yet, there were points that I just loved. Gibson was perfect. He was incredible as Max, and the world that Mr. Miller created was intense. The opening scene, the car crashes as our bearded villain just yelled "Toecutter" was fantastic. "Mad Max" has one of those openings that just pulls you in, that makes you excited to watch a film of this intensity, but then where do you go? Miller seemed to indicate that more car crashes, more violence, more cliché family drama would indicate a stronger film. At times he was right, his ability to create different scenes set across the same backdrop demonstrated his originality, but then there were times where it just felt recycled. One scene that stands out, is where our gang of bikers track down a couple that happens to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, they chase them down and demoralize them as Max and his partner find them - then, almost repetitively, it happens with Max and his girl later in the film. In this post-apocalyptic world, there seems to be no problem finding someone. Space seems to not be a problem. This was another unexplained moment - where the coincidence of discovering Max or finding the biker gang should have been more difficult. These repetitive, essentially simplistic scenes seemed to detract from the power of what Max represented. One also needs to ask about the story, the unknown of what time or place we are following Max - would this have strengthened the story knowing what world we lived in? The understanding that this was a low-budget film was rooted in my mind, the techniques provided were impressive, but should that have been neglected for mediocre storytelling? Perhaps I misread this film, perhaps I missed the joy of why this is hailed as such a cult success.
Another weakness against "Mad Max" has to be the relationship between his wife/girlfriend and child. Again, the lacking story helped confuse this viewer as to what dynamic they had, but when we have scenes in which the child is completely forgotten about - it just decimates the reasons behind Max's anger and utter breakdown. There were several scenes in which I yelled at the screen, "What about the child", then finally they would remember - he seemed to fade in and out of existence too often for one film. Then, when disaster strikes, we are forced to believe that suddenly Gibson would release his inner rage? It just didn't work. The same can be said for his wife/girlfriend. A stronger definition of character, and even more lines spoken would have helped me see the relationship. She seemed angry at first, the product of a failed marriage forced by this post-apocalyptic world to stay together, then we were introduced to love, then suddenly, she moved to idiocrity. Who would believe that running down a road, when there are open fields around, is the better option? It was these small inconsistencies that forced "Mad Max" from greatness to just another average action film. Two-plus hour sweeping epics aren't always needed, but stronger characters do help in creating the world that we, as viewers, are to inhabit for 90-ish minutes.
"Mad Max" is an important film, there is no question in my mind about that. The door that this film opened for future cinema in America couldn't have been done by a better group of filmmakers, but it isn't a promising classic. I could not watch this film again. The sequels I am ready for, but this ride is over - and the park is closing. I realize that I am in the minority, but "Mad Max" is a low-budget film that uses repetitive film-making as its staple - originality is present, but you must search to find it.
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