Mad Max (1979)
Runtime: 88 min (Netflix)
Starring: Mel Gibson
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%
Lifetime Box Office Gross: $8.75M USA, $100M Worldwide
I'm making like Eminem and "Cleaning out my Queue-set." That's one of his big hits right? Anyway, I've had this classic in my queue for longer than I can remember. And with the about a foot and a half of snow outside I decided to check out one of Mel Gibson's first roles, which ended up spawning 2 immediate sequels and a reboot that will premiere in 2015.
Set in a beginning of dystopian future in Australia (where apparently leather is the only fabric available) Mel Gibson plays Max, the best pursuit man in the highway patrol. I do not understand how you can comfortably drive a car for an extended period of time in leather pants. There would have to be a lot of overheating in that undercarriage, and I'm not talking about the car. Max kills a criminal, "The Night Rider," during a high speed pursuit in the movie's opening, which incites the rage of the Rider's gang and brings them to town looking for vengeance. The gang kill one of Max's friends and eventually his wife and child, and Max goes "Mad" and is out for vengeance.
This is a very 70s movie, in all the best ways possible. It is weird, tense and upsetting, violent, realistic and cheap. Some of those sound like digs but they are meant as compliments. The movie was made for under a million dollars and the lack of bells and whistles makes it feel that much more intense and real. The action scenes are top notch, and Mel Gibson is very good as a man with nothing to lose.
The original "Mad Max" is far less futuristic and dystopian than the Road Warrior movies that would follow it but it definitely lays the groundwork for that world. If you've seen the trailer for the new Tom Hardy "Mad Max: Fury Road," you can see how this movie is the beginning of that nightmare reality. Definitely check this movie out if you have any interest in that new one, or if you just like revenge movies. "Mad Max" is like "Taken" with cars, except with more psychopaths and less MacGyvering. I don't want to read too much into this, but it is a little tough to not see how Max's descent into insanity mirrors Mel Gibson's own shit storm over the last few years. Get into some nice, warm, comfortable, leather everything and watch this movie.
TRIVIA: (from IMDB)
Me Gibson didn't go to the audition for this film to read for a part, he actually went along with a friend who was auditioning. But because he had been in a bar fight the night before and his head looked like "a black and blue pumpkin" (his words), he was told he could come back and audition in three week's time because "we need freaks!". He did return in three weeks' time, wasn't recognized (because his injuries had healed well), and was asked to read for a part.