As you may or may not be aware, George Miller's insanityfest Mad Max: Fury Road is due out here in a couple of weeks. To help you get adequately excited for it (like you need help if you've seen a trailer) I've decided to take a look back at the series leading up to the new film's release.
The little movie that started it all is 1979's Mad Max, staring a very young Mel Gibson. He plays the titular Max, a police officer in a not very distant future where nearly all order has collapsed and crazy road gangs roam the Australian desert. He is moved to vengeance when a gang led by Toecutter (seriously) brutally attacks his partner.
Let me be clear from the get go: Mad Max is not a great movie in terms of story, acting, or emotional resonance. It is, however, as gleeful a post-apocalyptic car chase revenge movie as you could ask for (barring, of course, the next two installments) with some really daring camerawork and awesome crashes. It looks like it was shot for as much money as it took to buy and modify the cars and bikes used. It is low and in-your-face and as utterly unapologetic in its lack of exposition and explanation as it is in its absolute revelry in insanity. It has some really awesome chase sequences throughout, and truly impressive stuntwork considering they are not only jumping onto, say, moving trucks, but doing so like sunbaked lunatics.
This, of course, is what draws you to watch it: there is nothing quite like Mad Max. He is a genre unto himself. Where else can you find such madness for its own sake? In this world there is no answer, no getting better. Everybody in it is as adjusted to it as people working in a boring office for 20 years are to their environment. Violent crashes often elicit no more grief than would, say, running out of toner. Miller creates one of the few post-apocalyptic environments that doesn't feel temporary or foreign; it just looks like rural Australia aged a few years and everyone in charge went on permanent holiday.
For all the crazy going on, Max's relationship with his wife (Joanne Samuel) and son feels super real. Indeed, it functions as the one tether binding him and us to rationality. Even though there are a few kind of tacky "aw" moments between them, Gibson and Samuel make it feel genuine. It provides something like a jolt of reality and is the one shred of the spirit of human endurance that Miller allows into his film.
Although in many ways Miller is just getting his wheels going, Mad Max is still a solid distillation of what will become one of the craziest film series ever. It was a huge anomaly for 1979, and while others tried to do it again, it would only really be done by Miller when he pulled out the next chapter in 1981's Road Warrior.
Mad Max features Mel Gibson, Joanne Samuel, Hugh Keays-Byrne and Tim Burns, and is rated R for crazy people killing people with motorcycles, etc, and some swears.
Written by James McCausland and George Miller
Directed by George Miller
Here's a trailer for the American release with kinda bad American-accent dubbing. I would find an Australian version of the film if I were you.
by Chase Harrison