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Mad Max (1979)

He rules the roads.

Starring:

Bertrand Cadart

David Bracks

David Cameron

Hugh Keays-Byrne

Jerry Day

Joanne Samuel

Lisa Aldenhoven

Mathew Constantine

Mel GibsonMel Gibson

Reg Evans

Robina Chaffey

Roger Ward

Stephen Clark

Steve Bisley

Tim Burns

Directed by:

George Miller

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 88 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 18

On DVD

Country: Australia

Back before Mad Mel started liking casual drunken anti-semitism and using the back of his hand, he also liked to act. You can pretty much link his rise to stardom to this classic low-budget revenge thriller set in an apocalyptic future.

Gibson plays Mad Max Rockatansky, a cop who upholds the law in a dystopian future terrorised by very Eighties looking biker gangs. When a certain group of bikers lead by the psychotic Toecutter (Keays-Byrne) kills the lawman’s family, he flips a switch and goes on rampage looking to avenge them. And that is the pretty minimal but very engaging story running through George Miller’s movie.

The movie that shot Mel Gibson to stardom really is good, unclean fun. The plot, the special effects and the dialogue are all nicely minimalist and move the story along at a lightning pace at times with only the essentials. This builds up a tense atmosphere in a pretty cool future Australia with plenty of memorable scenes (the one with a hacksaw stands out for me) and impressive stunts to boot. Max is  the classic empathetic character who’s easy to root for as over a pedestrianly-paced opening his character is well introduced and fleshed out as Miller bothers to show his motivation for his vengeance mission.

It does look a bit dated (funny how the future always looks like a rubbish version of the past) but that’s part of it’s charm as the bucketloads of leather, suped-up motorbikes and over-the-top baddies both seem outrageous and terrifying at the same time.

It's Got: Some excellent scenes that stay with you, cheesy B-movie baddies, well-executed stunts

It Needs: To look less Eighties, for the small budget to be acknowledged, for it to be seen as an entertaining film but not a classic

DVD Extras The Special Edition has an informative commentary track, 'Mel Gibson: The High Octane Birth of a Superstar' and 'Mad Max: The: The Phenomenon' featurettes (one fluffy, one pretty fascinating), film spots and a trailer - they've put a good package together for the fans DVD Extras Rating: 8/10

Alternatives:

Any Which Way But Loose, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, The Road

Summary

Plenty of stunts, memorable scenes and pre-alcohol-Brit-bashing Mel Gibson makes this revenge thriller a winner. A little dated when seen today but George Miller has to get credit for getting there first and on a small budget too.

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