‘Mad Max’ is so completely awesome and badass, I don’t know how I missed this series. Made in an era of great revenge movies, Mad Max sets itself apart by being almost entirely made from car chases. Mel Gibson got his start in acting with this movie, and he’s great as the titular character. I can’t believe he was younger than me when he was in this, Jesus I’m getting old. Mad Max has a very old-school, pulpy feel to it, like it was meant to be seen at the drive-in (back when those were a thing). Mad Max really sucked me into it’s world, with a sort of ‘Clockwork Orange’ vibe meets a more standard revenge movie, all dowsed in muscle cars and motorcycles.
The plot of Mad Max is fairly straightforward. It takes place in a dystopian Australia where the country has all but broken down due to energy and fuel shortages. Motorcycle gangs scavenge the lands, looking for fuel and terrorizing the relatively peaceful population. To combat the growing amount of gangs, the Main Force Patrol has been created to patrol the land and uphold law and order. Max Rockatansky is the best of these MFP drivers, and at the beginning of the movie, kills an infamous gang member known as ‘Nightrider’. The gang he belongs to (The Acolytes) swears vengeance on Max and his MFP drivers, and they begin trading blows back and forth as the body count rises. Max attempts to leave the MFP after a close friend is killed, and he leaves town with his wife and newborn baby, but little does he know the Acolytes are hunting them down. The story didn’t have too many unpredictable turns, but was nonetheless just as entertaining. With how the movie ended, I’m stoked to jump back into this world and see what happens in the next two installments.
Like I mentioned earlier, this movie has quite a few influences behind it. The Acolytes gang is obviously pretty inspired by Alex and the droogs from A Clockwork Orange. It’s as if someone copied those characters and pasted them into a dystopian Australia, outfitting them with leather biker gear, wacky hair, and motorcycles. What Clockwork Orange didn’t have however, was a pissed off Max hunting them down. I’d be interested to see how long they’d terrorize people if they had someone like him hot on their trail.
Another great aspect of the movie is the way it was shot and put together. I read that it’s one of the most profitable movies ever made, costing only 400,000 dollars to make and raking in almost 100 million. The movie has a very authentic, grind-house feel to it, which I totally loved. The soundtrack matches the movie perfectly, with it’s pulpy dramatic flairs and super corny (in a good way) pre-80’s synth tracks on more emotional moments. Low camera shots on cars capture the speed and danger associated with the driving done in the movie, and beautiful wide shots capture the expanse of the Australian countryside. Mad Max also clearly influenced ‘The Rover’, which I reviewed recently. It’s kind of a ‘serious’ Mad Max, also taking place in a fallen Australian society. It’s as close as this series has come (and hopefully ever will come) to getting a modern ‘reboot’.
That’s going to do it for Mad Max. I loved this movie a lot, and can’t wait to check out the other ones soon. It reminded me of the recent ‘Grindhouse’ double feature that Tarantino/Rodriguez did, and I really hope we can get more low-budget action movies of that, and of Mad Max’s caliber again. It’s been a busy weekend, so I’ve missed quite a few days here and there, but stay tuned for more posts coming in the next few days!