Mad Max (AUS, 1979)
The now seminal dystopian semi futuristic Aussie vehicle based action thriller that brought Gibson into the limelight...plus its a dam good franchise.
A story that has now been ripped many times over right down to the last detail. We all know it, 'Max' is a leather bound cop in Oz who takes down nutters in his souped up Holden Monaro with the aid of his other fellow leather bound cops. A gang of bikers invade the peace of the territory and end up killing 'Max's' wife and child plus others which of course means revenge.
A simple premise but at the time the whole look and feel of the film was different if not totally original. The film mainly deals with 'Max's' peaceful life with his family and how society has broken down due to oil shortages. Actually somewhat slow for the most part, the start and finish are the high points.
The film kicks off with blistering pace as we get some fantastic car action with the now cult vehicles. Much like Japanese super saloons the cars aren't the prettiest to look at but they've got it where it counts. Great low camera angles, editing, deep rasping engine sounds and the odd bit of film speed up really do make these sequences feel gritty and real. The low budget seriously helps the film and certainly lives up to the notion that when you have little money you must be more creative which in the end will make a film look better.
Love the shots of 'Max' as he sits calmly in his car waiting for 'Nightrider'. Puts on his leather driving gloves, preps the car and then the still close up shot of his eyes behind tinted shades...reminds me of 'Drive'.
I have always thought this film does tend to lag through the middle as said before. After the initial turbo charged action the film sits back on the plot, this isn't bad as you do get character build up for the events to come but you can't help but yearn for more carnage.
Its hard to place this film if you ask me, the second is the best by miles and this one is also very good but its also a tad weak. The bad guys are fun but not really too threatening especially as they're on bikes. Hugh Keays-Byrne does add much needed flavour to the bad guys but I always felt he doesn't really do enough, just sits around and pulls faces. The way they kill 'Max's' wife and kid isn't very realistic either, not on bikes anyway.
The ending gets back into gear as 'Max' gets his revenge, what you've been waiting for the whole time. Whipping out the trusty Pursuit Special he tears up the highway and does what needs to be done in a reasonably satisfying fashion. The film may have been violent for the time but nowadays its very tame with obvious dummy usage.
The film doesn't date too badly, the cars are awesome and is it me or has there always been a kind of homosexual vibe to these films haha. A big butch leather bound bald guy with a thick handlebar moustache and the name of 'Fifi', it does make you wonder. The all male biker gang that wear makeup and stroke each other a lot haha and I've not even started on the sequel!
A solid entry made even better by the fact it came from nowhere with little budget. Just a tiny bit dull in the middle.