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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 25.45%
Average: 7.27%
Pretty Bad: 3.64%
Total Crap: 9.09%

2 reviews, 43 user ratings

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Mad Max
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Stephen Groenewegen

5 stars

Mad Max is a thrilling film, with an undeserved reputation for violence since the bloodletting is mostly suggested or off-screen. It soars during the car and motorcycle stunt sequences (coordinated by Grant Page) because these characters live through their vehicles (marvellous award-winning editing from Cliff Hayes and Tony Paterson). Co-written by director George Miller and journalist James McCausland (based on a story by Miller and producer Byron Kennedy), it was the latter’s only screenplay before he became editor on Melbourne’s The Age newspaper.

Mel Gibson’s grim demeanour and ruthlessness look like so much play-acting, and he’s awkward out of his leather in the family scenes (he didn’t build his first fully-rounded film characterisation till his next film, Tim). The theatricality of the other actors is occasionally grating, but mostly works, especially their alienating A Clockwork Orange style riffs. Hugh Keays-Byrne is particularly memorable as biker gang leader the Toecutter, though he doesn’t get to cut any toes (compare Bruce Beresford’s Money Movers, also released in 1979). Steve Bisley is terrific as livewire cop Goose. Surprisingly, the homoerotic antics of the gang do not come across as so much camp villainy.

Worthy of note is George Miller’s suspenseful and clever misdirection involving the continual evasion and outwitting of the gang by Jessie (Joanne Samuel, a last-minute replacement for another actress who broke her leg on the way to the shoot). Her demise - off-camera - is more powerful for it. Most chilling is the ending in which Max devises a sadistic demise for one of the gang members (ironically the one who refused to ignite Goose’s truck when he was trapped in it). It turns Max into a Dirty Harry-style vigilante and, assuming you’re not whooping with lustful glee, leaves you repulsed and disturbed.

The low budget means the near-future setting is believably close to ours, with recognisable towns and people and machinery. This is also pre-Miller’s discovery of Joseph Campbell, so the story, setting and character refreshingly aren’t mythologised to death. The film feels more real and relatable and less like out-there science fiction as a result. Brian May regrettably overdoes the hammy horror touches in his score.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 07/25/03 16:23:44
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For more in the Australian series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Brisbane Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Brisbane Film Festival series, click here.
Trilogy Starters: For more in the Trilogy Starters series, click here.

User Comments

4/29/19 Louise (the real one) Very well made. Mel Gibson looks so sexy! 4 stars
3/24/15 Anne Watched it just in homage to the good reviews 1 stars
3/01/13 Sam After so much hype. Marginal at best 2 stars
8/03/08 Shaun Wallner Great Action!! 5 stars
1/15/07 David Pollastrini a bit slow in places but still good 4 stars
9/14/06 Booksworm Well deserving of it's cult classic status 4 stars
7/11/06 David Cohen Action movie with social commntary, more relavent now than ever 5 stars
10/18/05 Indrid Cold I heard that one of the Mad Max movies is very good. I've seen 1 and 3, so it must be 2. 3 stars
8/04/05 DM Cheesy in places, but well-directed and well-acted. 4 stars
5/04/05 La Chupacabra Revolutionary, and one badass movie 5 stars
3/07/05 el burro Stupid as hell. Gibson young and fine, pre-passion insanity. 2 stars
1/07/05 R.W. Welch Basically a revenge western, but shows considerable innovative flair. 4 stars
11/08/04 Shit Talker One Fucked up film 1 stars
6/08/04 PAYNE not bad, but too short... 4 stars
1/07/04 Pinkline Jones Made for no money because its a crock of brown stuff 1 stars
12/06/03 john maybe the most kinetic opening ever - made for no money! 5 stars
11/29/03 john unpredictable powerhouse action film 4 stars
8/23/03 zx9 rider excelent car crashes and old bikes 4 stars
8/03/03 tom hanks Great Movie, average story, wonderfull use of camera, nice editing 5 stars
6/01/03 Apathy Short, but memorable. That last scene is so badass... 4 stars
2/22/03 ashley watley it was ok 1 stars
1/28/03 Holly Vergara mad max rules 5 stars
1/13/03 Jason MUST SEE - get the unedited DVD, no dubbing 5 stars
11/12/02 Nevz I don't care what you say. This Is The Bollox. 5 stars
9/30/02 Charles Tatum The only film I wish more sequels existed for 5 stars
9/17/02 babybelle One thing to love a man to death, another thing to die for him. I'd die for MAX. 5 stars
5/19/02 john waite jesus!!..check out the motobike crash! mother of a movie.completly nuts! 5 stars
4/01/02 Joe Schulz I saw a boob 5 stars
3/19/02 Aborted Gently It started the Apocalyptic movie crazy. Fucking beautiful. 5 stars
1/10/02 Mr. Hat (formerly Joe Zappa) Mostly kinda boring until the last half hour. 3 stars
11/25/01 Mathias Österman Shame about the American over-dubb though 4 stars
10/02/01 Phoenix Cheesy, but still a classic. 5 stars
8/19/01 Babybelle Spooky little film. Grows on ya tho' 4 stars
7/06/01 Genghiz Tanghe I like this movie. Good humor and nice desert scenes. 4 stars
4/05/01 Hawkeye The first time through it just seems weird, but it'll grow on you, promise. A great film. 4 stars
3/23/01 viking a landmark Aussie movie 5 stars
1/25/01 dave Underhill get off this film rocks especially the twist at the end excelent writing and acting!!! 5 stars
12/27/00 fifu it was entertaining but good enough to be a classic, i like road warrior better 3 stars
5/21/00 Jess Watch this Road Warrior and Babe 2 all one night you will see genius. 5 stars
2/11/00 MarshyMan This is how the best films are- make by desperate to prove themselves filmmakes. Not Babe!! 4 stars
1/12/00 John Markham COMPLETE DUNG! 1 stars
11/03/99 Todd This is by far the best of the series, Mel Gibson is awesome in it. 5 stars
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  09-May-1980 (R)
  DVD: 01-Jan-2002

  10-Dec-1979 (15)

  12-Apr-1979 (R)

Directed by
  George Miller

Written by
  George Miller
  James McCausland

  Mel Gibson
  Joanna Samuel
  Steve Bisley
  Tim Burns
  Roger Ward
  David Bracks

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