Thursday, December 6

Mad Max Review

I watched on: Blu-Ray
The Price I paid: £19.99 (Mad Max Anthology box set)
Notes: N/A

Mad Max is one of the most interesting examples of a post-apocalypse. This first film while not the height of the series is still a nitro injected blast! I’ve really been looking forward to talking about these films. Even after more than 30 years, there is nothing quite like Mad Max.

Most post-apocalyptic stories start after the nuclear war but Mad Max is special in that the nukes don’t get dropped until after the second film. This leaves the first film is a state where power, water and food are still plentiful but fuel is a rare commodity. I would highly recommend any fans go read up on the backstory. To save time I’ll tell you the short version though. Iran and Saudi Arabia go to war which leaves the Persian golf destroyed and the oil fields set ablaze. The price of oil skyrockets and leaves the economy and civilization on the brink of ruin. The Main Force Patrol or MFP is formed to try and keep law and order around the Australian towns were our story is set. Max is a member of this police force along with his friend Goose. Outside of work he lives in town with his wife Jessie and toddler son Sprog.

While most people live honest decent lives in towns, the outback is controlled by gangs that roam wild. This is where the biker gang known as the Acolytes come into the picture. After one of their members, the Nightrider, is killed by the MFP they come to town and begin to terrorise the locals. The Acolytes are one of the best parts of this film. Their disgusting and violent nature makes for one of cinema’s most horrifying group of villains. Mad Max doesn’t shy away from just how nasty this gang is so if you find violence, sexual abuse and murder upsetting then I’d avoid this film. While it never shows any of these acts directly it does heavily imply them as well as showing the aftermath. This is uncomfortable to watch but helps sell how violent and nasty the world has become. Mad Max is a series about the harsh realities of civilizations decline and this brutality is a part of that.

It’s not just brutality that sells this world as believable. The dialogue here is some of the best in film history. Characters show a wide range of emotions that create a number of really fleshed out personalities. Max will joke with his wife and friend before his world goes to hell but after it does he shows fear and sadness. He expresses his love for his wife and son both through dialogue and actions. This is not a lazy attempt at setting our main character up with a tragic backstory when Max’s family get killed off. We spend most the film with them alive playing a very active role in the events of the story. Seeing Max and Jessie together feels real and that’s lacking from a lot of modern films. To me, it’s this slow burn, the attention to characters and outstanding writing that make Mad Max special.

Despite my obvious love for this film, it’s not flawless as it falls foul to some of the offensive notions of the time. Most of the evil and insane biker gang are queer coded often looking or acting in ways understood as homosexual. This includes wearing makeup, dancing with each other and at worst even raping a man. All of the good people are strictly heterosexual. During this era of film-making, it was common to demonise the LGBT community. Seeing it in one of my favourite films is kinda horrible and that’s why I wanna call it out. There’s also a lack of women. Most of the MFP are male with Max’s wife, Jessie, being the only woman to gain any depth or real sense of personality. These flaws are made even worse because the men are amazing showing a soft caring side most men in cinema lack. It’s not unwatchable and as a gay trans woman myself, I don’t find it offensive but I can understand how someone could.

While not flawless there is a lot to be said for any action film with only 2 action scenes and yet never feels boring. I’ve watched Mad Max 3 times to write this review and I’m still not bored of it. Compared to Fury Road it’s a slow film but amazingly it’s never tedious. That’s a real testament to how spectacular of a film it is even after more than 30 years.

Recommendation Rating: 7 out of 10

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