Mad Max (1979)

DVD Cover (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer 35th Anniversary Edition)
Movie Connections:
Mad Max
> Mad Max (1979)
> Mad Max 2 (1981)
> Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)
George Miller George Miller
Mel Gibson Mel Gibson
Joanne Samuel Joanne Samuel
Hugh Keays-Byrne Hugh Keays-Byrne
Steve Bisley Steve Bisley
Tim Burns Tim Burns

6.2 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres / Traits: Action, Biker Film, Chase Movie, Road Movie, Sci-Fi Action, Science Fiction, Post Apocalyptic
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Review by Chad
Added: June 11, 2007
There are certain films that, when looking back on them after a couple of years of having not seen them, are remembered as being better than they actually were. Take the 1987 He-Man movie, for example; I saw that back when it was first released (back when I was a wee little lad who was thoroughly obsessed with the cartoon), and sitting here today, I remember it as being a top-notch classic. Of course, if I were to pick up a copy of it and watch it again, my opinion would more than likely be radically different. That's sort of how I felt after watching Mad Max again: I remembered it as being such a great film, but today I find myself wondering what the big deal was.

The storyline for this movie is pretty basic, and to be honest, it doesn't offer a whole lot aside from being just another revenge film. 'Mad' Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) is a police officer in the not too distant future, and in the opening moments of the film, he finds himself responsible for killing a criminal known as the "Nightrider" after a high-speed car chase. As it turns out, Nightrider was a prominent member of the local motorcycle gang, and now the bikers - led by a charming fellow named Toecutter (Hugh Keays-Byrne) - want to wage war against the cops. It's a bit of a back-and-forth pissing contest between the two factions, but when the bikers murder Max's wife (Joanne Samuel), it becomes personal and Max sets out to gain his revenge.

I think my main issue with the film was the pacing, pure and simple. There's four basic "acts" to be found as the film progresses: act one is an introduction to this world and the characters within, act two is the setup where we see how the cops and the bikers battle one another, act three finds Max and his wife taking a vacation to get away from it all, and act four is the grand finale where he starts to get his revenge. My main concern with the film was that acts two and four should have had the most time devoted to them, but instead, we were treated to overlong stretches of time in acts one and three. Did we really need an entire scene devoted to Joanne Samuel frolicking in the water and sunbathing? Granted, she looked great in a bikini, but these scenes could have definitely used some trimming. All of this certainly wasn't a deal-breaker and the film wasn't downright bad, mind you, but there's a reason why the sequel is considered to be the superior film.

Aside from that, I did enjoy the film: Mel Gibson was excellent in his first leading role, and although the man has - ahem - had his moments in recent years, there's no doubt that he deserved to be thrust into a second, third, sixth, and hundredth leading role after his performance here. Hugh Keays-Byrne also managed to steal more than a couple of scenes as the over-the-top villain that definitely isn't all there upstairs, and I enjoyed each and every last moment that he was in front of the cameras. I was also particularly fond of the action and chase sequences once things started to pick up in that regard, as I miss the days of CGI-free action spectaculars such as what was found here - I only wish there could have been more of it.

Although I was disappointed with some of the pacing issues (which were no doubt due to the budget concerns), I still enjoyed the film as a whole. However, the sequel is definitely the superior film, so keep that in mind when you decide to take a stroll down memory lane. 6/10.
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doney #1: doney - added 06/13/2007, 01:26 AM
i liked the intro, but it sorta goes downhill from there. my favourite part of the whole film?-the XB Falcons they drive around in.
Bliss From A Dead Embrace #2: Bliss From A Dead Embrace - added 01/30/2009, 01:48 AM
great movie that was more like a prequel to one of the greatest films in movie history
Crispy #3: Crispy - added 03/13/2011, 01:18 AM
Really disappointing. Took forever to get to what you called Act 4, which like you said should have been more of the focal point. Also, the ending was incredibly anticlimatic.
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