Mad Max (1979) Directed by George Miller Shown: Mel Gibson

Having seen Mad Max: Fury Road already, and not caring much for it, my entry into the original Mel Gibson trilogy was a tepid and frightful time. I’d heard excellent praise toward the series as a whole, but so far nothing has blown me away just yet. Director George Miller’s attempt at creating the apocalyptic scenarios throughout Mad Max are enjoyable enough for what it attempts to do. There are no grandiose messages to be found throughout, just some pure adrenalin scattered throughout a shaky plot.

Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) is a police officer in a near-apocalyptic Australia who sets out to take down a bicycle gang that terrorises his life. Gibson’s performance isn’t the most memorable of his career, but it’s one of the reasons he came to such prominence. His role as Rockatansky is solid enough, his delivery could use some work but there’s definite evidence to suggest a budding career. It feels very much like The Warriors in its attempts at recreating a somewhat hyper violent society, the only difference being that I like Mad Max and its attempts at creating a psychotic yet inhabitable world.

With Gibson’s performance the slightest bit scenery chewing, he appears to be the straight-shooting hero when compared with the rest of the campy B-Movie performances. A great deal of the performances have bad sound mixing, stumbling dialogue and just a general feeling of low quality. One of the rare instances where all of this is passable, especially given the measly $350,000 production budget. It feels more like flags of hardship and effort, rather than annoying pieces of bad performances.

That being said though, Mad Max is far from perfect. Aside from its few and brief action scenes, the plot dwindles into a typical revenge story that you’ll have seen time and time again. Interspersed with some vaguely stylistic choices from Miller and a plausibly enjoyable performance from Mel Gibson, Mad Max hasn’t aged with the grace of its contemporaries, but it’s still an important introductory point for the series and the action genre on the whole.

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