Mad Max - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Mad Max Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ November 16, 2009
Mad Max is decent cult action, full of great stunts and car crashes that make the best of a very low budget, although the story takes a bit too long to speed up, making the entire beginning a little dragged and reaching its narrative core with only fifteen minutes left to end.
Super Reviewer
June 5, 2009
Whole lotta dirt and rubber and bikes and bad accents and sawn-off shotguns and boy i bet the odor this movie made is unmatched.
Super Reviewer
May 5, 2015
George Miller's Mad Max is brilliant in its action-sequences and overall thrills. Though there are some slight malfunctions in its transitions, this film is still far ahead of its time for being a dystopian action thriller in the latter part of the 1970s. 4/5
Super Reviewer
½ October 1, 2012
The now seminal dystopian semi futuristic Aussie vehicle based action thriller that brought Gibson into the limelight and gave us a damn good franchise to boot.

This story has now been rehashed 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 Ford Falcon with the aid of his other fellow leather bound cops. A gang of makeup wearing bikers invade the territory tearing it up and eventually killing Max's wife, child and partner. Of course this means all out bloody war and revenge for Rockatansky (seriously what is with that name?!).

A simple premise but at the time the whole visual approach of the film was quite fresh and exciting. Plus the fact it came from the relatively unknown country of Australia made it even more intriguing. Didn't really know much about Australia when I was a kid (during the 80's it was all American culture), certainly didn't see anything on TV from that region so this film felt really new and different when I first saw it (apart from the odd Paul Hogan flick). 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 finale are the high points.

The film kicks off with blistering pace as we get some fantastic car action from 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 reverberating engine sounds, the odd bit of sped up film and lots of grinding beat-up metal really does make these sequences feel grounded 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 turn can make a film look better in the end.

Love the shots of Max as he sits calmly in his car waiting for 'Nightrider', the calm before the storm. Slowly he puts on his leather driving gloves, preps the car and then the still close up shot of his eyes behind tinted shades...reminded 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 does sit back with the plot and take things gently. 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 judge this movie if you ask me, the second is the best by a clear country mile, this first chapter is also very good but at the same time a tad weak. The bad guys are fun but not really too threatening...especially as they're on bikes (oh so dated bikes now) and so easily rammed off the road. Hugh Keays-Byrne does add much needed flavour to the bad guy gang but I always felt that he didn't really do enough, merely sits around grimacing and snarling into the camera (with eye makeup on). The way they murder Max's wife and child isn't very realistic either...not on bikes anyway, plus the editing is a bit jerky there methinks.

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 reasonably satisfying fashion. The film may have been violent for the time but nowadays its very very tame with obvious dummy usage...but the real time stunts are still impressive.

The film doesn't date tooooo badly, the cars are still awesome if a bit clunky looking, costumes hold up just about oh and the homosexual vibe is correct and present in parts. A big butch leather bound bald guy with a thick handlebar moustache and goes by the name of 'Fifi'?! The all male biker gang that wears makeup and stroke each other a lot...does make you wonder. Never the less a solid entry made even better by the fact it came from nowhere and with little budget, just a tiny bit dull in the middle.
Super Reviewer
October 15, 2013
A fun, terrifically staged and appropriately enthusiastically dystopian action film concerning a member of the police (Mel Gibson), feeling disillusioned from his work amidst a post-apocalyptic society, and how his young family is threatened by a ruthless biker gang after he is responsible for the death of their leader during a car chase. Director George Miller dresses this film up with no budget whatsoever amidst the beautifully desolate Australian landscape, with a star-making performance from Gibson as an everyday man character who is easy to root for given his situation. The movie takes a sudden turn near its conclusion that gives it a darkness I for one did not see coming, which in turn makes it a more memorable film instead of just a fun, though forgettable, action film. Instead this sudden change in tone makes it a film worthy of its cult classic status.
Super Reviewer
½ October 1, 2010
The premise suggests something a little bigger than what the film really delivers, but "Mad Max" boasts from a powerhouse leading man and some pretty awesome car chases. As a cop is wanting to be with his wife, rather than being in danger every day on the job, every job just seems to get worse and worse, driving him to become a little crazier than his character was when we first met him. This film is a perfect representation of a great character arch and the classic way of showing it is present the whole way through. It moves a little slow and the secondary characters aren't very likeable, but I had fun watching this movie. "Mad Max" is a very enjoyable ride!
Super Reviewer
August 26, 2007
03/11/2012 (DVD)
Super Reviewer
½ September 15, 2012
Mad Max is the begining of best trilogy ever made. With outstanding chasing scenes and car crashers in a violent post-apocalyptic world. Exciting and unique first picture of George Miller and Byron Kennedy terrific saga. Sorry to Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings and Back to the Future, but Mad Max is number one.
Super Reviewer
June 9, 2006
This film did a lot of things: not only did it introduce the world to "Mad" Max Rockatansky, it was the film that turned Mel Gibson from an unknown (it was his second or third film) into the star he is today, and it helped to kickstart the whole near-future dystopia/post-apocalyptic genre.

The film takes place in near future Australia, and society has really started to break down. Motorcycle gangs terrorize the land, one especially vicious gang in particular, so it is up to the police force to use basically any means necessary to stop them. Enter Max Rockatansky, a tough, but possibly unstable cop who, after his best friend and family are victimized are killed, goes over the edge, with only one goal in mind: revenge.

This is a raw, gritty, and tough film. The low budget really brings the violent and despairing scenario to life. Yes, the film's narrative is a little muddled and incoherent, but when you have wild characters, an epic score ,and some balls-out awesome stunts and action scenes, none of that really seems to matter, especially when those thigns are doen well, as is the case here. The film is a bit slow (mostly in the middle), but it's never boring, and the slowness just serves to build up the anticipation for whe nMax systematically gets his revenge.

Gibson is awesome, and you can really see a more unhinged version of Martin Riggs in his performance. He's wild, but eerily cool and calculating at the same time. Hugh Keays-Byrne is creepy as chief antagonist Toecutter, and he makes for a solid villain.

Yeah, the film is quite rough around the edges, but given the type of film it is, this works in its favor. It's fun in the sense that seeing all Hell break loose is fun, and with awesome cars and cool stunts, you really can't go wrong by giving this one a watch.
Super Reviewer
½ April 7, 2007
Awesome, awesome, awesome, awesome, awesome, awesome.
Super Reviewer
½ May 13, 2011
I finally saw this cult classic. It was cool. Mel was such a babe, even with that bowl cut. But this movie had a lot of leather and sh*t hair. And for a movie called Mad Max, I don't think it should have taken an hour and 13 minutes for Max to get mad.
Super Reviewer
½ July 14, 2010
Car chases, insane villains and jaw dropping acton. What more could you want from the first film in the Mad Max trilogy of films directed by George Miller. This film introduced us to Mel Gibson. A film with awesome car chases and stunts , this is a film that will entertain you to the max. Mad Max is one amazing action packed film, and is quite possibly one of the best films Mel Gibson has ever played in. Mad Max is set in a dystopian future where law is constantly broken. Max is a good cop who when he sees his family get murdered by a gang of bikers, he goes on to do vigilante justice using his car as a weapon. George Miller has crafted a unique film, and this is a primer example of an effective and well made car chase film. The Aussie's are masters at stunts, and Mad Max certainly delivers that and more. One impressive aspect of the film is that it combines elements of a vigilante thriller with a car chase movie, and the formula is quite simple, but very effective. The film is a nonstop thrill ride, and Mad Max remains an action classic. The film is brilliantly directed and the stunts are intense. Mad Max will satisfy any action movie buff and will deliver awesome thrills. The fact that the filmmakers are able to do something so simple with a plot, yet make it seem big is very impressive. Because after all, Mad Max doesn't really have that complex of a plot. But what makes the film work is like I've a couple times before, is the stunts, car chases and overall chaos of the picture. The car chases themselves are a character of the movie, and become part of the plot. Mad Max is a fine Piece of cinema filmed with style by George Miller.This was only beaten, only slightly by it's sequel, The Road Warrior.
Super Reviewer
November 18, 2009
Next to Escape From New York, the Mad Max series is by far the best action/sci-fi in existence. It has ridiculously cool and realistic stunts, an adrenaline fueled plot and a great dystopian future as a backdrop. Mel Gibson reigns supreme as a good natured family man turned vengeful obliterator, accompanied by the last of the V8s and a sawed off shotgun. This was his emergence into the action genre and he does it without flaw. No one will ever be able to display as much rage in one look. The look of this movie is part of its effectiveness, the minimalist views of Australian outback are really captivating. George Miller managed to make a science fiction movie that doesn't linger in its theories, but incorporate them into a character driven scenario. The style is undoubtedly one of its stronger suits, there is no room for compassion in the world of Mad Max; only destruction.
Super Reviewer
½ November 19, 2010
"They say people don't believe in heroes anymore. Well, damn them! You and me, Max, we're gonna give 'em back their heroes!"

In a dystopic future Australia, a vicious biker gang murder a cop's family and make his fight with them personal.

Mad Max is still today a highly entertaining and exciting action thriller and that is a great achievement considering the low budget and high age of 31 years. Of course there are some hairstyles and fashions in the movie that does not look right today and the pacing is a little slow by today's standards. But that does not hurt the experience so much that you forget about the good things in the movie. The action scenes are terrific with superior camera work and editing. The stunts are spectacular but not so implausible that you think "hang on a second. Stuff like that can't happen" unlike many James Bond movies and Michael Bay flicks. Mel Gibson in his debut is magnificent. He is especially good in the last twenty minutes of the movie when Max really goes mad. The rest of the cast are also good notably Hugh Keays Byrne as the Toecutter. A very memorable villain indeed. The semi-apocalyptic world they live in is also very interesting as it could all happen someday when the world goes nuts. Overall a good example of how little it takes to make a good action flick. You don't need an all star cast or a million dollar budget. All you need is a good director and talented actors. Well done George Miller!
Super Reviewer
October 14, 2008
"Look, any longer out on that road and I'm one of them, a terminal psychotic, except that I've got this bronze badge that says that I'm one of the good guys."

Mad Max is all about vehicle fueled vengance. A young Mel Gibson plays a lawman in a near-future, gang infested Australia. His encounters with a especially vile gang result in a deadly attack on his wife and infant son, and the last act of the movie focuses on his single-minded payback on those responsible.

Mad Max is certainly low-budget, but the movie doesn't really suffer from it. It is dated, however, and so many movies with similar premises have been made in the last thirty years that this one doesn't make nearly as much of an impression now as it probably did back in 1979. Watching this is a near-requirement for fans of Mel Gibson, but for everyone else, it's a decent movie that should be seen more for its classic status than its current entertainment value.
Super Reviewer
July 1, 2008
A few years from now anarchy will reign supreme. Oil shortages will make V-8 engines virtually non existent. The infrastructure has collapsed due to the over burdens on the system. Public works is just a pile of ruble. The price of human life is very little. Wow, it almost seems like we're on our way to roving motorcycle gangs and meat trucks.

The title character in Mad Max (Mel Gibson) doesn't represent the thin blue line. there is no line anymore. It's just a bunch of guys who do a job they are disillusioned with for a variety of reasons. One guy does it to get off on the violence, another to get the chicks. Max does it because it's a job. He's good at the job, but he's disheartened by it and the mayhem it causes. His job is to stop renegades on the road without any concern to anyones safety, including his own. That's a tall order considering that he has a wife and son at home. There's a strong urge to leave, but deep down he knows that even if he left the Main Force Patrol, there would still be a kicking and screaming animal wanting another piece of him.

Mad Max is first and foremost an action film. The stunt work and crash sequences are magnificent. If you don't understand just check out the motorcycle crash at the end of the picture when one of the riders is scraping across the pavement only to be hit in the head with another riders motorcycle. You've heard of gorilla film making, this is gorilla stunt work. These sequences alone are worth the admission/rental/download price, but there's also a story here, too. It's your basic western set ahead of our time. A law man pushed to the brink, yet pulled back into the fray by circumstances beyond his control. You know he will saddle up one more time.

Directed by George Miller, this is a well made film for being so cheaply made by quite a few first time film makers. That's probably why it's so much better than standard fare in that it pushed the envelope because it was a low budget film. Mad Max is a classic apocalyptic tale that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the final explosion.
The Gandiman
Super Reviewer
July 16, 2010
Australian low budget thrill-fest put Gibson on the map yet borders on camp excess which adds to its appeal - yet its the maddest of all revenge flicks.
Daniel Mumby
Super Reviewer
½ March 27, 2010
Mad Max is a high-octane, fuel-injected, supercharged powerhouse of a movie, which comes at you without patience or compromise and assaults your senses over a blistering 90 minutes. Part punk western, part exploitation film, part rough-and-ready horror movie, Mad Max brilliantly combines a strong thesis about energy and social collapse with spectacular action scenes and some of the best car chases in existence. George Miller's directorial debut is a remarkable piece of work, which remains every bit as powerful and gripping at it did when first released.

Just as Dark Star helped to bridge the gap between old-school sci-fi and post-Star Wars space fantasy, so Mad Max takes the great westerns of John Ford and Sergio Leone, and kicks them up the backside into the future. It takes the talismanic features of films as diverse as The Wild One, Badlands and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and imposes its own unique vision on the archetypes these films created. What results is the first ever punk western, in which leather-clad rebels without a cause take to the desolate highways and commit acts of unspeakable, motiveless horror.

In this desperate and aggressive world, the horses and covered wagons have been replaced by whining motorbikes and thundering patrol cars. The noise made by the vehicles is a soundtrack unto itself, at least to the petrol-heads among us. As with the climactic chase in Bullitt, the composer Brian May (no, not that one) rightfully avoids adding anything to this already symphonic roar. For all the technological advances, however, the surroundings remain desolate and inhospitable; if you didn't know better, you'd swear you were in the Mid-West rather than near the Australian coast.

For all its exploitation trappings, and its very low budget, Mad Max has an intelligence running all the way through it which neither hampers the money shots nor allows us to get lost in the more sadistic scenes. The film was made partly as a response to the OPEC crisis of 1973-74, in which the world's oil producers sharply reduced oil production. The price of petrol quickly quadrupled and remained high in Australia throughout the 1970s.

Miller's central thesis in the film is that humanity will become more savage and extreme as the resources it relies on become scarce. To our environmentally conscious minds, a supercharged V8 muscle car is the last thing you want to drive in a world running out of oil. But when you're up against psychotic bikers who rape, pillage and burn, you won't stand much chance in a Toyota Prius.

The lack of oil and other key resources -- caused by goodness knows what -- has caused a social collapse, and both the bikers and their pursuers have retreated to a more animalistic state of being. Much of the bikers' dialogue is screams and howls, and the officers of the Main Force Patrol are no easier to understand. This is not because of their thick Australian accents (which were badly overdubbed on the theatrical release), but because of their ruthless pursuit of the bikers at the expense of personal morality. Take the scene of Goose and the stuttering mechanic showing Max "the last of the V8 Interceptors" -- they crowd around the engine and holler like a pack of hyenas, turned on by the power they have created and the thought of using it to hunt these people down.

Following on from this idea is Max's fear that he could so easily tip over into savagery. Both the bikers and the patrol groups wear black leather (or what appears to be leather; in reality only Mel Gibson is wearing the real thing). At one point Max remarks to his boss that "any longer out on that road and I'm one of them, a terminal psychotic, except that I've got this bronze badge that says that I'm one of the good guys." There is a genuine warning in these scenes over the lengths seemingly normal people will go to in the name of what seems right, so that eventually the idea remains but the person is completely destroyed.

Outside of its western elements, Mad Max is also pretty effective as a horror film, with several scenes recalling films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or The Hills Have Eyes. When the bikers attack the couple's car and tear it to pieces, the camera films it like a murder scene. There are shades of Psycho in the rapid cutting of close-ups as bits of the car's 'flesh' is torn off, and the leaking petrol is shot like blood oozing from a gaping wound. The scenes of Fifi running through the wood to escape her pursuers is expertly tense, and the individual shocks involving charred and severed hands of two of the characters are handled very well indeed.

In its final third, Mad Max also becomes an intelligent revenge thriller; after his family are murdered, Max becomes obsessed with avenging them and drives off in the Pursuit Special to hunt down every last member of the Toe-Cutter's gang. As in Death Wish, the film intrinsically acknowledges that this quest for revenge will lead to the destruction of the central character, whether by their choice or inadvertently. But where Death Wish delights in the violence and hurries the character development to get there, Mad Max takes its time. Max only becomes mad in the last 20 minutes, and we see the evolution of his mental and physical collapse evolve and progress on screen.

The action sequences in Mad Max are brilliantly choreographed, with great and authentic stunts which keep things brutal, rough and gritty but never gratuitous. We do get certain scenes of gratuity, such as the brief encounter between Goose and the singer in the almost non-existent skirt, but the film wisely keeps its eyes on the prize and the actual 'encounter' does not take place on screen. The atmosphere created by the opening chase scene is really something, and sets the scene for future badlands horror movies like The Hitcher.

Mel Gibson's performance as Max is really great. For everything that's been written about him since, with varying degrees of truth, one cannot deny the intensity and charisma he brings to the screen. The film relies almost entirely on his character's transformation being believable, and Gibson rises amply to the challenge. Steve Bisley is enjoyable as Goose and Hugh Keays-Byrne is deliciously over-the-top as the Toe-Cutter. He's the only person who can wear a ponytail on his forehead and still be intimidating.

Mad Max is not quite a perfect film. The soundtrack, when it can get a word in edgeways, is a little too Thunderbirds at certain points, and the film does occasionally tip over into pantomime. But these are mere trifles in an otherwise fantastic film. The acting is solid, the writing is simple but effective, the camerawork is technically accomplished and the film is constantly gripping. Fans will argue 'til the apocalypse about which the best film in the trilogy, but none of them will deny the powerful and violent originality present in this cult classic. A real must-see.
Super Reviewer
April 22, 2007
Beautifully shot and edited, George Miller's gritty future western (as I like to think of it) is still a powerful movie to behold.
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