MAD MAX MOVIE REVIEW: “Mad Max” stars Mel Gibson (Signs, Braveheart), Joanne Samuel (Nightmaster, Early Frost), Hugh Keays-Byrne (Moby Dick , Mad Max: Fury Road), and Steve Bisley (The Great Gatsby , Water Rats). It is directed by George Miller (Happy Feet, Babe: Pig in the City) who also co-wrote it with James McCausland (Mad Max Motion Comic). Set in an apocalyptic future where insane gangs rule the roads, Max (Gibson), a highway patrolman, tries to stop a new boss, Toecutter (Keays-Byrne), who brings further chaos. It will cost him everything in this battle for order.
Reeling from the fantastic release that is “Mad Max: Fury Road,” I had to see the other three movies that came before it. I wasn’t expecting a magnitude the size of “Fury Road,” but I did expect some promising storytelling. “Mad Max” is an odd film to say the least. In terms of expectations, the overall tone of this caught me off guard. The world Max is living in within this film isn’t one where everyone has gone mad, but rather a place were a few are. It is set in the near future, where cops dressed in leather hunt down senile people who try to shake up their small towns. Not a moment did it feel futuristic since everyone dressed in 70s clothing and had its lingo, but I didn’t care because I loved the setting. From the oranges of the landscapes to the beautiful beaches of Australia, this film provided an escape into a world that has gone corrupt. I will admit that it took me a while to appreciate this, because the first half of this movie was hard to get through. I don’t like to tear down a picture for its age, but this one is definitely worn. The first fifteen to twenty minutes involve a high-speed chase to capture a loony man known as the Nightrider who broke out of prison and took a policeman’s car. This was a fantastic sequence as we are shown how messy confrontations can get and how this futuristic police force can’t seem to do anything without Max on the front lines. Even though it was a great aspect of the story, it took a huge bite out of the runtime, which lasts a little over an hour and a half. I’m not the kind of guy who considers long movies to be the most appropriate, but I do get worrisome when the opening leaves me with only an hour left of story. Once the beginning splits off into the main plot, that’s where things start to dip in quality. We are introduced to the villain, known as the Toecutter (not one moment did he cut someone’s toes, but it is a funny name nonetheless). This guy is a wacko. He hisses at his biker gang, thinks of only the most twisted things, and even has a white streak in his bushy hair, so you know he’s gotta be out of his melon. The way he is introduced displays how crazy he is as well as his gang that follows him around. They are destroyers, relentless in the evil acts they commit. I like the insanity of this group, but an issue I found with them is how they never seem to be a big part of the story until the very end. Only one member of the group takes part in the majority of the plot, and it isn’t even the Toecutter. Most of our time is spent with Max, his partner Goose (Bisley), and his family. Quite frankly, I can’t remember a good bit of this movie because nothing happened. There are some confrontations, some lives are lost, but it takes until the middle of the second act for things to get interesting. I’m not saying that half of it was complete garbage, because there are some memorable scenes, but it isn’t enough to be considered a cult classic. That is, until the third act anyway. You see, once Max takes his wife and kid on a trip this movie found its pacing and thrill. I don’t know why, but something sparked inside of me. Their short adventure gave way to great cinematography and the build-up of tension that came from the villain’s arrival made for a fantastic watch. I was sucked in. Everything came to full circle when Max got mad though. That’s where the fun happened. It became a story of vengeance and when he went to hunt down every last member of the biker gang I got chills. The final ten minutes were awesome. I don’t want to spoil what happened, but it basically built the foundation on what the future installments will be like. Away from the story itself, I thought the acting was pretty good. Some of it felt over-the-top, but there was good chemistry between some of the characters. The directing was amazing as George Miller provided several different shots to bring this story to life. Action sequences in this were choreographed beautifully and I loved every one of them. Other than the issues I found in the story, there isn’t much left to pick apart. It’s not a great release as it is rough around the edges and has a shaky first half, but the rest of the runtime redeems a ton of qualities, as I do see some promise for the next releases. FINAL SCORE: 76%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: