Mad Max (1979)


George Miller directs Mel Gibson, Joanne Samuel and Hugh Keays-Byrne in this Ozploitation actioner where a road cop takes down a violent gang. 

All the violent nihilism of a revisionist western, all the punkish energy of a rebel racers road flick, all the visual invention of a sci-fi opus but with none of the budget for effects… did a pen pushing bureaucrat really just turn up in bushido armour? What world are we in? What fucking world, are we in? A near future. An economic collapse. The roadside cafes are still running. A believable dystopia of petrol fumes, forbidden sectors, risky runner panel camera angles and tarmac scrape scars for both characters and movie crew. Alien in its politics, but familiar in its summer holiday iconography of beach front ice creams, inflatables and doomed caravans. This is how you make an exploitation movie. Camp hordes of biker villains – sweaty, lurid danger drips from them. Anything can happen to the innocents they hawk and preen and squawk around. Their behaviour is pantomime, their deeds hungry cats toying with mice in their claws. They rape, kill, terrorise and rage down the roads as society has fallen apart… they face no opposition, only fear. Who will clean up the vicious likes of Toecutter, Johnny the Boy and Bubba Zanetti? Baby faced Mel Gibson, that’s who. Creating the character type that will define his career; the grief stricken man who is overly skilled in mayhem, crazier than the enemy when pushed. His beautiful family, the moments of warmth Miller gives them are touching and unique, cursed so we the blood thirsty viewer can get the carnage we demand. A blank beautiful face, holding back his tears and anger, as he takes down his feral antagonists one by one. A star is born. Born into a whiteline nightmare of amazing wreckage stunts and perfectly rhythmed set pieces. Max reaching for his shotgun as the squealing wheel of a bike approaches to crush his forearm is stuff of intense dreams. Down and dirty perfection. Miller can devastate, titillate and compel with his trademark unfussy but kinetic big screen compositions. He is an action director like no other.


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