In a self-destructing world, a vengeful Australian policeman sets out to stop a violent motorcycle gang.In a self-destructing world, a vengeful Australian policeman sets out to stop a violent motorcycle gang.In a self-destructing world, a vengeful Australian policeman sets out to stop a violent motorcycle gang.
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.
- Aug 9, 2009