The tone setting opening sequence provides everything we need to know about this dystopian near future. Starting with a cop getting his voyeur on through the scope of his rifle, he’s no less excited to get a call about the Nightrider riding wild. We get the classic, I’m driving cop conversation and the alpha male switch of drivers after the failed first attempt but best of all we get the introduction of our “hero” Max. The tight shots on the aviator glasses, the dashboard, the exhaust, all of this is basically copied to a T a few years later by Sly Stallone in Cobra but it makes for a badass entrance.
To me Mad Max is a morality play based on one man’s dive into the depths of hopelessness. His friendship with the Goose and relationship with his wife and son maintain Max’s humanity and as they are stripped away his snaps into vigilante mode. The framing of the shot as he passed the sign reading “Stop Restricted Area” is a little too on the nose for me as we don’t need any more to show us what Max has set out to do and become.
I feel like the score was something that was a major plus for this movie in 1979 but felt very dated.
Each time the panned to the gates to The Halls of Justice and played the same tune I was transported to watching the Super Friends on Saturday Morning Cartoons. (Meanwhile at the Legion of Doom…) I get what they were doing, but I only needed to see the Halls of Justice sign falling apart and the Halls themselves in ruin once to understand this was no ordinary police force.
I did wonder during the family vacation how responsible it was to leave his wife and kid alone so often given that he knew this biker gang was in the area especially after her first run in with them. Oh well, Aussies are pretty not smart.
I thought the script left something to be desired with a number of areas. First, I like dialogue this movie didn’t have much. Maybe the dubbing from the busted Aussie dialect “strine” held that back who knows. Second, we got handsome and crazy Mel Gibson when everyone knows the best Mel Gibson is, handsome charming and crazy. Hard to be charming without more words.
Disjointed review over, I want to say C but it did make me want to watch The Road Warrior (which is even better reviewed) so I’ll bump it into the no man’s land of C+