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Film Review: Mad Max

Mad Max (1979; Directed by George Miller)

George Miller (former doctor turned movie director) turned out a more influential and popular film than he probably strictly deserved to with Mad Max. Simultaneously launching the post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie, popular Australian film, and Mel Gibson in America, Mad Max has risen to the level of a seminal classic despite drastic gaps in the quality of its key cinematic elements.

Those dingos will think twice before trying to take MY baby!

Though the film’s Aussie-slanged dialogue retains some colloquial appeal, it’s only recently been heard in North America after 20 years of domination by the American-English-dubbed version. Take away the almost alien expressiveness of the talk of the characters, and the script gets rather dodgy indeed (and it isn’t exactly undodgy in its original form, either). The music is downright horrible. The plot seems better constructed than it is, and unfolds to its revenge-fantasy conclusion with strained predictability. The vengeance structure that the narrative gradually takes on would anticipate the major throughline of Gibson’s career, from Braveheart to Ransom to The Patriot and even The Passion of the Christ, wherein the holy Resurrection is sort a coda of payback for visceral maltreatment. Hell, Mel even starred in a movie literally entitled Payback. All of that started, more or less, with Mad Max.

And yet, there’s something undeniably appealing about Miller’s film on a purely cinematic level. From the opening sequence’s white-knuckle car chases and Hollywood-quality crash stunts to the widescreen Australian countryside, perfectly adapted to dystopian decay, the visual look of Mad Max is what makes it at all notable. It’s got a savage, knawed beauty to it that can overcome even the most pernicious action-movie melodrama (and it is chocked full of that, though perhaps not as much as its sequels The Road Warrior and Beyond Thunderdome, whose film geek profiles vastly oustrip that of its predecessor). Mad Max remains a film worth seeing, anyway, if only to look at.

Categories: Film, Reviews
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  1. March 16, 2013 at 7:42 am
  2. May 24, 2015 at 11:40 am

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