Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Mad Max #review

In a self-destructing world, a vengeful Australian policeman sets out to stop a violent motorcycle gang.

I was most certainly a wee sprite when Mad Max came out (1979) but it was one of those movies that I've watched more than once over the years. It had a bit of a reputation – as in I heard a lot about it while growing up – before I first got to see it when I was in my early teens.

I also admit my feelings about the film have changed over the years. When I was younger, I got a big kick out of what I now term loosely as "revenge porn". And then of course there's the rather baby-faced Mel Gibson before he became a complete jerk (and a household name).

If you're looking for a template for late 1970s styling, you can't go wrong with this film. It's dated horribly. It's clear George Miller was already aiming at a post-apocalyptic vibe, but there's enough of a touchstone of the (then) contemporary to ground this film firmly in reality. This is a future that's just around the corner; it's recognisable.

The plot is a coat hanger. We're not going to delve deeply into what motivates characters (beyond the rather obvious need for revenge.) We're not even going to talk about whether Mad Max passes the Bechdel test nor whether women characters have agency (hint, Mad Max is very much a product of its time). This film is all about the chase and the stunts. If you go into watching Mad Max for anything other than the absolutely insane car chases, you're going to come away disappointed.

The film is very much the origin story that sets up for the films that follow, and out of all the four films currently in existence, it's most certainly not my favourite. Is this a great film? No, not really. Is it entertaining? I'd say so – if you're looking for the "oh my god how did they manage that?" kind of reaction when trying to figure out how they did the stunts.

Will I watch this film again? Probably. It's one of those that kinda stuck with me when I was growing up, even if it's not particularly great. I'll write it off as mood, setting and nostalgia, and leave it at that.

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