Thursday, August 21, 2014

Film Review: Mad Max (1979)

Mad Max (Review)
Australia/1979
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: Yes

"The action sequences are top-notch..."

In the outback of Australia during a dystopian future, lawlessness reigns supreme as biker gangs terrorize communities and the last of the police force, known as the Main Force Patrol, hunt them down.

Mad Max follow the Main Force Patrol, particularly expert driver Max (Mel Gibson), as they, well, police the outback. It's a fairly simple and barebones story, but with a great concept and immersive world. Anyway, after chasing a member to his death, Max is interwined in a conflict with a vicious motorcycle gang. A battle that hurts a fellow police and causes him to consider quitting the force. A battle that takes a much larger toll on Max as the story progresses. It leads to a great climax and great ending.

Like I said, Mad Max has a barebones story. In fact, it feels compressed and cut because it glides through some major moments. It feels like it skips or rushes through some critical scenes in the plot. One huge event happens, like a death or character conflict, then it quickly edits through to the next. It keeps filler to the minimal, but also leaves little to no opportunity for proper buildup or character.

Fortunately, the world it builds is great. I liked the dystopian future it develops -- it's not a post-apocalyptic world, but it works in creating a genuine feeling of lawlessness. I also liked the story, despite it being very simple. The action sequences are top-notch, too, especially if you like real stunt work instead of computer effects. Fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat chases, some shootings, and a few trembling explosion. What it doesn't have in story, it almost makes up for in action.

The acting is generally good. I liked Mel Gibson as the lead, he's very charismatic. Some of the supporting cast is great, while some are corny. The film looks great, and I really enjoyed the camerawork. The film stands the test of time in high definition. Some of the music is decent, but a lot of it is overwhelmingly melodramatic and corny; the music makes this film feel more like a b-movie than it really is. Director and co-writer George Miller does well in crafting the film's great action set pieces, but lacks a fluid and consistent flow; it's fast-paced one moment, then loses steam, then picks up again; the story also feels very barebones.

Overall, Mad Max is a very good film. The concept is intriguing and the world is immersive, the action is fantastic, and Mel Gibson is great as the lead. However, the story does suffer from being too minimalistic and choppy pace. The soundtrack doesn't fare much better, either. Worth watching for actions fans and fans of old-school b-movies.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Violence and blood, some very brief sex and nudity.

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