reviewed by Tom-Tom
In anticipation of the 4th Mad Max film which will debut in Japan June 19th, 2015, thirty years after the third film, I decided to go back to the beginning of it all and see what exactly Mad Max is all about. The film begins with orchestral tension playing something between Bernard Herman’s “Psycho” theme and any one of Lalo Schiffrin’s 70’s themes. A high speed chase is in progress and police officers are in pursuit. The cop cars have things like Interceptor and Pursuit written on their backs. The terrain is desert like, forlorn looking, must be Australia (or Nevada). The cars are all right hand drive and the escaping perpetrator screams into the police radio ( it is a cop car he has stolen with his wild girlfriend) that he is the Nightrider in a “gas-fueled suicide machine” sounding more like an announcer for an inappropriate Monster Truck Commercial than anything else. There are some terrible car crashes and near misses with the suspense and action hyped up pretty high before our hero steps in. Mel Gibson looks super youthful and nowhere as intimidating as post 90’s Mel. All the brief glimpses leading up to his affable Joe College appearance are a bit of a let down. We’re expecting a badass not an All-American starting quarterback.
Max saves the day nonetheless but his actions have ramifications which bring trouble to down in the form of a biker gang (which seem to be Clockwork Orange rejects who never grew up) led by a weirdo to match Nightrider. Soon they target the “Main Force” police officers (as they are yawningly called) and anyone in their line of sight, vandalizing, terrorizing, raping, and killing at will. Max flees the lawlessness with his wife and toddler hoping to live happily ever after. There’s no escaping the gangsters, however. They follow Max’s family to an idyllic place with beaches and lakes and Tarzan swings an armed old lady who knows how to protect her own. Tragedy ensues and leads up to an exciting showdown between Max and the gang. He dons a supped up black muscle car to pursue the miscreants. There is some considerable stunt work along the way. The chase scenes are very expertly filmed and edited. We never feel, as with many chase scenes today, that is has been going on forever. The end scene is poetic and horrifying (and perhaps the inspiration for the movie “Saw” While Mad Max isn’t a great film, it certainly is a good one. The music is a bit of a mismatch most of the time either over the top B-film horror reveal or teeth-crackingly sweet and soaring strings. But the action is professional, well paced, and eye catching. The scenes in between are in need of a bit of editing themselves..