Mad Max

1979

Mad Max

Critics Consensus

Staging the improbable car stunts and crashes to perfection, director George Miller succeeds completely in bringing the violent, post-apocalyptic world of Mad Max to visceral life.

90%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 61

70%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 141,931
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Movie Info

This stunning, post-apocalyptic action thriller from director George Miller stars Mel Gibson as Max Rockatansky, a policeman in the near future who is tired of his job. Since the apocalypse, the lengthy, desolate stretches of highway in the Australian outback have become bloodstained battlegrounds. Max has seen too many innocents and fellow officers murdered by the bomb's savage offspring, bestial marauding bikers for whom killing, rape, and looting is a way of life. He just wants to retire and spend time with his wife and son but lets his boss talk him into taking a peaceful vacation and he starts to reconsider. Then his world is shattered as a gang led by the evil Toecutter (Hugh Keays-Byrne) murders his family in retaliation for the death of one of its members. Dead inside, Max straps on his helmet and climbs into a souped-up V8 racing machine to seek his bloody revenge. Despite an obviously low budget and a plot reminiscent of many spaghetti Westerns, Mad Max is tremendously exciting, thanks to some of the most spectacular road stunts ever put on film. Cinematographer David Eggby and stunt coordinator Grant Page did some of their best work under Miller's direction and crafted a gritty, gripping thrill ride which spawned two sequels, numerous imitations, and made Mel Gibson an international star. One sequence, in which a man is chained to a car and must cut off a limb before the machine explodes is one of the most tense scenes of the decade. The American version dubbed all the voices -- including Gibson's -- in a particularly cartoonish manner. Trivia buffs should note that Max's car is a 1973 Ford Falcon GT Coupe with a 300 bhp 351C V8 engine, customized with the front end of a Ford Fairmont and other modifications. ~ Robert Firsching, Rovi

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Cast

Mel Gibson
as Mad Max Rockatansky
Tim Burns
as Johnny the Boy
Steve Bisley
as Jim Goose
Roger Ward
as Fifi Macaffee
Vincent Gil
as Nightrider
Vince Gil
as Nightrider
Geoff Parry
as Bubba Zanetti
Paul Johnstone
as Cundalini
John Ley
as Charlie
Jonathan Hardy
as Labatoche
Sheila Florance
as May Swaisey
Sheila Florence
as May Swaisey
Reg Evans
as Station Master
Howard Eynon
as Diabando
Jerry Day
as Ziggy
Peter Flemingham
as Senior Doctor
Phil Motherwell
as Junior Doctor
Nic Gazzana
as Starbuck
Neil Thompson
as TV Newsreader
David Cameron
as Underground Mechanic
David Bracks
as Mudguts
Lulu Pinkus
as Nightrider's Girl
George Novak
as Scuttle
Nick Lathouris
as Grease Rat
Andrew Gilmore
as Silvertongue
Nein Thompson
as TV Newsreader
Gil Tucker
as People's Overseer
Kim Sullivan
as Girl in Chevy
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News & Interviews for Mad Max

Critic Reviews for Mad Max

All Critics (61) | Top Critics (7)

  • If punk is a sensibility as well as an adjective, Mad Max is a punk movie. Its Australian setting enhances it, authenticating its futuristic aura.

    Apr 27, 2018 | Full Review…
  • [The] film has been consigned to the grind houses, where audiences are responding as Miller wants them to. From there Mad Max will find its way to the film schools and revival houses, where its tough-gutted intelligence may be appreciated.

    May 11, 2015 | Full Review…
  • Overnight, Mad Max went from being a U.S. cult hero to a mainstream figure, and Mel Gibson's place in the firmament was secured.

    May 30, 2007 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • Stunts themselves would be nothing without a filmmaker behind the camera and George Miller, a doctor and film buff making his first feature, shows he knows what cinema is all about.

    May 30, 2007 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • Some of the most determinedly formalist filmmaking this side of Michael Snow.

    May 30, 2007 | Full Review…
  • The tone sometimes wavers into self-parody, and there are occasional crude patches, but overall this edge-of-seat revenge movie marks the most exciting debut from an Australian director since Peter Weir.

    Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…

    David Pirie

    Time Out
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Mad Max

  • Sep 15, 2017
    I didn't enjoy this film as much as I wanted to, I found the story to be predictable and dull, The acting wasn't great, The villains were just a a typical crazy biker gang and didn't seem a threat to anyone other than women and children, It did have some good car chase scenes and some cool stunts but it felt too dull and the ending was pretty tame compared to what I thought it would be like, It's not a terrible film more of a let down.
    Jamie C Super Reviewer
  • Jul 18, 2016
    There is a reason why Mad Max remains a cult classic, George Miller created a violent apocalyptic world where fuels are now scarce and violent gangs terrorise people. Mel Gibson was the star of this film in his very early film career, he truly did a marvellous job playing the titular character. Overall, Mad Max has enough car stunts to satisfy action buffs, even if the acting was not the greatest.
    Sylvester K Super Reviewer
  • Feb 11, 2016
    A very good debut for a great franchise. Mad Max has a great storyline, cool stunts and an amazing performance by Mel Gibson. It does get boring in some segments and isn't as action packed as later installments but this film does work great as a revenge thriller.
    Mr N Super Reviewer
  • Jun 18, 2015
    More grindhouse than post-Apocalypse wheelhouse, this drive-in adrenaline rush established a blockbuster brand and put Mel Gibson on the map. It was shot mostly on the cheap, but you wouldn't know it. Staging Fast & Furious-level hot-rod blockbusting on a Two-Lane Blacktop budget, this origin tale exhibits a biting - albeit offbeat - sense of humor and balletic violence that rightly earned it an instant cult status. Indeed, Mad Max isn't for everybody. It's more dialogue driven and stagy than the superior follow-up, The Road Warrior, and shares only basic DNA with Fury Road, but it sets a winning grindhouse cinema tone that carries through to this day in top shelf form. In this R-rated thriller, a vengeful Australian policeman (Gibson) sets out to stop a violent motorcycle gang in a self-destructing post-apocalyptic world. George Miller and Mel Gibson seem to be planning this road trip as it goes. Driven but cagier than in future stories, the titular anti-hero gets played more as a feral vigilante here. In the next two superior installments, Gibson's Mad Max assumes the mantle of lone wolf-turned-reluctant hero. For now, however, this less assured young actor exhibits definite chops but still exudes lethal weapons-grade charisma. You can't turn away, even if this iteration of Max lacks the steely cool machismo of Road Warrior. More of a cornered animal striking out, his magnetism keeps us vested, as does Miller's H'Wood-level stunt spectaculars. Bottom line: The Passion of the Crikey
    Jeff B Super Reviewer

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