6.9/10
183,522
351 user 241 critic

Mad Max (1979)

In a self-destructing world, a vengeful Australian policeman sets out to stop a violent motorcycle gang.

Director:

George Miller

Writers:

James McCausland (screenplay), George Miller (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
Reviews
Popularity
610 ( 76)
4 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Mel Gibson ... Max
Joanne Samuel ... Jessie
Hugh Keays-Byrne ... Toecutter
Steve Bisley ... Jim Goose
Tim Burns ... Johnny the Boy
Roger Ward ... Fifi
Lisa Aldenhoven ... Nurse
David Bracks ... Mudguts
Bertrand Cadart ... Clunk
David Cameron ... Underground Mechanic
Robina Chaffey ... Singer
Stephen Clark Stephen Clark ... Sarse
Mathew Constantine Mathew Constantine ... Toddler
Jerry Day ... Ziggy
Reg Evans ... Station Master
Learn more

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Storyline

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. After some grisly events at the hands of a motorcycle gang, Max sets out across the barren wastelands in search of revenge. Written by Cole Matthews

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

When the gangs take over the highway... ...Remember he's on your side. See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The only film in the franchise to have the R18 rating in New Zealand. See more »

Goofs

When Jessie finds Cundalini's hand hanging from the back of the van, a crew-members fingers can be clearly seen holding the chain up. See more »

Quotes

Fifi: People don't believe in heroes anymore.
Labatouche: I know McCaffee, you want to give them back their heroes. You will not try this one on me again, I do not enjoy wasting money. Goodbye and good luck.
Fifi: Thanks Labatouche, you're a real human being.
See more »

Alternate Versions

MGM's 2002 DVD release, called the "Special Edition," contains the original Australian English dialog track. There are also options that play the film with American International's replacement U.S. dubbed track as well as a pan and scan version. This DVD version runs 93 minutes. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Lemmy (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

Jessie's Theme
(uncredited)
Written by Nic Gazzana
Performed by Joanne Samuel
See more »

User Reviews

 
Is Max really mad, or merely just misunderstood?
9 August 2009 | by film-criticSee all my reviews

"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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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Official Sites:

MGM Studios (us) | Official Facebook | See more »

Country:

Australia

Language:

English

Release Date:

21 March 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Mad Max See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$350,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$8,750,000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$8,771,757
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (special edition)

Sound Mix:

Mono | 4-Track Stereo (Japan theatrical release)

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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