"I am a fuel injected suicide machine! I am the rocker, I am the roller, I am out of controller!" That crazy monologue (courtesy of the Nightrider) may be the best way of summarizing the action sequences in Mad Max.
So, set in a post-apocalyptic version of the lands "down unda", Mad Max tells the tragic but extravagant story of a man trying to give the world a last chance by serving a collapsing law system that is overshadowed by the insanity and violence that now rules over the land.
As you may have guessed, the word dystopia is a synonym for Australia in this movie and the filmmakers do an amazing job of portraying this with an extremely low budget. They use an excellent idea of only having very few city sets. The hall of justice, the hospital and some apartments and garages are seen throughout the movie but they are very scarce and empty looking. This gives the audience a true feeling of emptiness and insight on the situation that most of society has gone missing. The rest of the film is smartly shot on location. The desolated and flat landscapes of Australia serve as the perfect places to let out all the road rage in ever lasting car chases that could go on and on for days, as the roads seem to always lead to more nothingness. This wasteland is characterized very well with numerous bike gangs roaming it constantly and you can also feel the desperation of the cops who find it extremely difficult to deal with a certain gang lead by someone named "Toecutter". Hissssssss. But there is one man that stands strong like a rock against a current. A man who has taken the law into his own hands. Mad Mel. Sorry, Mad Max. That name carries the title of badass like no other. He gets along with his mates, he has a smoking hot wife and a cute kid, he believes in the law and he sports a roaring V8 that can catch on to almost any baddie. He is basically a symbol for the stable world, but we'll talk about all of those crazy theories later.
For now let's talk about innovation. The ground base this movie establishes is vast. The "post-apunkalypse" that we have witnessed in many movies and parodies through the last 4 decades has its source in Mad Max. The costume design and the whole tone of the original make it somewhat of a pioneer.But aside from the style he helped to establish, George Miller surprised his audience (which at the time was fairly small) with a heavy dose of maniacal stunts that had people wandering how in the actual hell had the director convinced the stunt-men to pull off those cringing vehicular tricks! The action in this flick is astounding and the lack of a big budget solidifies the fact that you are a visionary director with a remarkable ability to plan and direct action sequences (just watch Mad Max: Fury Road and you'll know what I am talking about). Risk clearly lies behind every shot but that is the only way that passion transcends into the big screen.
The editing makes the action even more extravagant by mashing these scenes with perfect pace and adding subtle touches like those weird "eyes popping out" moments. Those subtle moments of insanity are what make this movie so unique. The antagonist hissing at Max is a weird "wut did I just watch" instance but that sort of weirdness is what keeps us from shutting our eyes in these sort of films.
Aside from all the praise lie a couple of negatives that are understandable because this was George Miller's first feature lenght film. One of them being that Max becomes "Mad" as the movie is reaching its end. And I don't mean the third act; the real "Mad Max" gets maximally 15 minutes of screen time. Even the normal Max gets only half of the movie worth of screen time, as the first half mainly tells the story of Goose, Max's friend. Mel Gibson only gets to shine as an actor in a very limited amount of screen time. The rest of the movie he is just staring at nothing like a badass and that is to little for our main man Mel! The pacing is all over the place switching, very confusingly, between some vehicle crashing into a million peaces and a scene of Max's wife getting a long walk along the beach and an even longer tan.
As distracting as they might seem, the negatives don't outweigh the positives. George Miller creates a world where sanity and insanity have come to a final confrontation. A world where you can only survive if you adapt to the circumstances and become as crazy as its inhabitants."Mad Max" is the product of this world. The product of "Toecutter". Stripped from all hope and love, a new Max emerges and adapts to the world as it is. That's why "Toecutter" is such an iconic character and worthy of an introduction as awesome as the one he gets, he represents madness and the birth of "Mad Max".
But we will not thank "Toecutter" for molding such an iconic film persona, as he now lies in the category of roadkill. We will, however, thank George Miller for starting out on such a successful franchise with very low resources but immense passion. This film is a must see for someone looking for the work of a mastermind behind action sequences and scene building mixed in with some maniacal ideas of characters and even some laughs that will come out of its 80's movie cheesiness. And it even made Mel Gibson reveal himself to the world! But before I lose myself talking about Mel Gibson's career, I will finish this review by giving Mad Max an 8 out of 10.
Review by pablo2896 from the Internet Movie Database.