“I am the Nightrider. I'm a fuel injected suicide machine. I am the rocker, I am the roller, I am the out-of-controller!”
Due to the upcoming Mad Max sequel starring Tom Hardy, I decided to watch the previous films because I had never had the opportunity to do so. Mad Max was a surprisingly fun experience, despite its low budget and cheesy effects (which when you take into account that they were made in 1979 are actually quite good). A relatively unknown Mel Gibson played the titular role in this apocalyptic future where the Australian police force is doing what they can to uphold the law against the various menacing gangs in the wastelands. The film opens with a car chase involving a couple of cops and a cop-killer known as Nightrider. He has stolen a police vehicle and is crazily driving through the streets while threatening the police force through their radio. The stage is set for this wildly violent world set in a decaying society. Despite the very low production budget that director George Miller had to work with, he was able to pull off some impressive car stunts, which feel quite fresh now that we’ve been exposed to so much CGI. When the cops are unable to catch up to the Nightrider, Max shows up to save the day. He is a police man who has grown weary of the violence and wants out. He’d much rather spend his days in retirement with his beautiful wife, Jessie (Joanne Samuel), and their young boy. But somehow the chief and his partner Jim Goose (Steve Bisley) always manage to convince Max to stay on the force because they consider him to be the hero figure that the society needs. However, things begin to get even more hectic when a group of bikers arrive in town to avenge their friend, Nightrider. Toecutter (Hugh Keays-Byrne) is the leader of the band and they begin to spread more fear and caos in the streets. The premise is set for a fun and bonkers film.
Mad Max had all the right ingredients to become a cult-classic film thanks in most part to the fantastic direction from George Miller who made this, his first feature film, with an extremely low budget. Some of the story elements feel very familiar now, but you can’t help but feel intrigued by this apocalyptic world and the way each car stunt was executed to perfection. By the time the sequel came out, Mad Max was viewed by more people and its cult status quickly died down. And that is why now, 30 years after the third film in the franchise came out we are getting an expensive Blockbuster sequel which surprisingly looks very promising. I expected Mad Max to be more than anything a star vehicle for Mel Gibson who ruled the box office during the 80’s and 90’s with his irresistible charm, but surprisingly this break out role for him didn’t focus so much on him. It is more about the world that Miller creates, and Gibson didn’t really have to do or say much. This isn’t a film you can go back to and say that he was a star in the making because everything that made him so popular in his next films was watered down here. He gives a solid and restrained performance, but I found the performances from Hugh Keays-Byrne and Steve Bisley to be the most memorable ones. Mad Max is far from being perfect, but you can see how many modern films borrowed heavily from its violent story. Mad Max is a futuristic sci-fi film that borrows common themes from the vigilante revenge films we’ve been so exposed to all these years.