Watch Mad Max
- 1 hr 35 min
Mad Max is a cult classic Australian film from 1979 that would launch the careers of Mel Gibson, the director George Miller, and a whole sub-genre of post-apocalyptic science fiction movies. Set in a dystopian future in which an oil crisis has led to a societal breakdown, the movie follows the titular character, Max Rockatansky, a police officer who patrols the highways of an Outback that's been transformed into a lawless wasteland. From the opening moments of the film, we're introduced to the tone and style of Miller's vision, as a high-speed pursuit through the desert sets the bar for the dynamic and visceral action scenes that form the backbone of the movie. Right off the bat, we're also given a glimpse into the tenuous structure of the society that remains, with rival gangs battling it out for control of the few remaining resources, namely food and gasoline. As we spend more time with Max and his fellow officers, we see how they're struggling to maintain order in a world where chaos is becoming the norm. The police force is shown to be heavily outnumbered and outgunned, with makeshift vehicles and weapons no match for the souped-up machines of the gangs. In a particularly impactful scene early on, we witness the death of one of Max's colleagues at the hands of a ruthless gang leader named Toecutter (played with terrifying intensity by Hugh Keays-Byrne). This event sets Max on a path of revenge, leading him to become more and more like the violent criminals he's trying to bring to justice. One of the most striking aspects of Mad Max is its world-building, which is accomplished through a combination of detailed production design, costume design, and cinematography. The Australian desert setting is rendered in a way that feels both familiar and alien, with the sun-baked landscape and makeshift vehicles creating a unique aesthetic. The costuming, meanwhile, hints at the different factions that have risen up in this new world, from the police uniforms, to the leather-clad bikers of Toecutter's gang, to the mohawked punk rockers who serve as their foot soldiers. Another standout element of the film is the performance of Mel Gibson as Max. Although he hadn't yet achieved global stardom at the time of Mad Max's release, his charismatic yet brooding turn as the titular antihero served as a calling card for his abilities as an actor. Gibson imbues Max with a sense of weariness and cynicism, as well as a simmering rage that progressively boils over as the movie goes on. Although the film doesn't delve deeply into Max's backstory or inner life, we get a sense of a man who's seen too much violence and loss, and who's increasingly unsure of what his place is in the world. As the film builds to its violent and cathartic climax, we see Max pushed to his limits, both physically and emotionally. The action scenes become even more inventive and thrilling, and the stakes feel higher than ever. Miller leaves us with a sense of the cycle of violence that exists in this world, where there's no real winner or loser, only survivors who are left to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives. Overall, Mad Max is an innovative and influential piece of cinema that set a new standard for action and dystopian storytelling. Its themes of societal breakdown and individual vengeance have resonated with audiences for decades, and its impact can be seen in countless movies and TV shows that have followed in its wake. For those seeking a thrilling and thought-provoking ride, Mad Max remains a must-watch.