Friday’s Favorite Flix – Mad Max
The original “Mad Max” movie was produced in 1979 and released in the US by American International Pictures. Watching it again after more than three decades, the film shows its age. Every bit of the grainy, cheesy, 1970’s era grade B movie feel comes through today. This movie was directed by George Miller and starred Mel Gibson. “Mad Max” was Gibson’s second film (the first was "Summer City" in 1977) and while he was young, his talent was obvious. This movie was shot on a very low budget ($650,000 USD), but grossed impressively at the box office ($100,000,000 USD Worldwide). For decades, “Mad Max” held the Guinness World Record for most profitable film and is easily categorized as an early cult-classic. The success of the movie allowed for two sequels “Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior” (1981) and “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” (1985). A fourth movie, “Mad Max: Fury Road” was released in May 2015.
The premise for the Mad Max series is a major energy crisis sometime in the future. This crisis causes law and order to begin to break down. The result is that gangs roam the back roads of Australia with relative impunity. The law, identified by the initials MFP (Main Force Patrol) on their vehicles and uniforms, is largely ineffective, underfunded and nearly forgotten. The prevailing attitude in the station house is rapidly degrading. So much so that if a criminal is killed out on the road, oh well, that’s just the way it is. Some of the officers, such as Max, try to maintain a semblance of professionalism, but the direction the department is headed is obvious.
Friday’s Favorite Flix are descriptions of those movies we love – We either own them or when channel surfing, we’ll stop when we find them and settle down to watch.
If you have a movie that you think should be in Friday’s Favorite Flix, let us know. We like discovering new favorites.
The opening sequence shows a wild, completely out of control, whack job, calling himself “Night Rider” (played by Vincent Gil) running from the MFP in a stolen police pursuit cruiser. After destroying several pursuing vehicles, the criminal and his deranged girlfriend are eventually killed in a fiery wreck. War is declared on the MFP by the remaining members of the motorcycle gang calling themselves The Acolytes.
When the gang shows up to claim the body of the Night Rider, they decide to take over the town where the train delivered the coffin. As some of the residents call for help from the authorities, others try to flee the chaos. Part of the gang decides to chase a couple of them down, and eventually cause the fleeing residents to crash. The man is killed and his female passenger viciously raped. By the time the MFP gets there, the gang has already left the scene. All except for Johnny “The Boy” Boyle (played by Tim Burns) who is too stoned to ride his motorcycle. The MFP takes him into custody for trial.
After neither the victim nor any of the townspeople show up for the trial, the court orders the gang member released. This infuriates the officers. One of the arresting officers, Jim “Goose” Raines (played by Steve Bisley) has to be physically restrained. As The Boy is leaving the station he taunts the officers by yelling, “We know who you are and where to find you.” The Captain, Fred “Fifi” MacAfee (played by Roger Ward) tells the squad to “do whatever it takes, so long as the paperwork’s clean.” In other words, anything goes.
The experience with the gang has rattled Max and he wants to quit the force. The Captain and Goose try to convince Max to stay by revealing a new police special being built. This one has a blower on the V8 which would make it the fastest vehicle on the roads. The implication is clear, stay on and this baby is yours. Max is smitten by the car and agrees to stay, encouraging the mechanic to get the car ready as soon as possible.
Soon after, The Boy sabotages Goose's motorcycle causing him to wreck. An unhurt Goose calls a friend to lend him a SUV to take his bike back to headquarters for repairs. He doesn’t make it. The gang ambushes him on the road and causes him to total the SUV. Goose is trapped in the wreckage as gas leaks from the damaged vehicle. The Boy lights the gas intending to burn Goose alive. He nearly succeeds. When Max sees what is left of his fellow officer, dying in the hospital, he quits the force for good.
Max takes his wife (played by Joanne Samuel) and child away from the city to the country to try and protect them from retaliation from the gang. While Max is out getting a tire fixed on the family car, the gang stumbles upon his wife and child. When they try to run away, the gang runs them down and kills them. Max returns too late to save his family.
This is the final straw for Max, he loses any compassion and professionalism he once might have possessed. His only thought now is revenge. Max returns to the garage and takes the Police Interceptor with the blower and uses it to hunt down the gang members. When he encounters them, he just plain kills them. It is clear that there is no longer any of the cop left in Max as he drives into the sunset.
This movie is a disturbing commentary on how quickly civilized society could break down as a result of fuel shortages. The perspective presented to the audience is very graphic and dark. The film, at least attempts to present a compelling reason for the main character going off the rails. In the end though, it is just window dressing on a parade of violent scenes. This is one of those films that will haunt you with graphic images long after it has ended.
Images by Kennedy Mill Productions
About Brian Hill
Brian Hill is a home theater enthusiast who has an extensive background in sales. His interests include music & movies, F1 & NASCAR auto racing, hot rods (he has a '56 Nomad) and hockey — Go Sharks!
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