Mad Max (Blu-ray)
Mad Max is not deep, nor does it contain any double or hidden meanings. Quite simply on the surface what you see is what you get. First and foremost, this film is a journey. It’s a road you have to take to understand why the main character becomes the man that he does.
The star and centerpiece of the film is a very young Mel Gibson as Mad Max Rockatansky. As soon as the film begins you are thrown into an action sequence. Set in a dystopic Australian future, we witness the ongoing problems with a crazed biker gang. Justice and order are starting to be a hard thing to come by when the world is at its breaking point. The only thing keeping sanity on its axis is Main Force Patrol. In the beginning, Nightrider has escaped jail and is on the road with his punker girlfriend. During a high-speed chase the pair intersects with Max, the pursuit reaches a climax when Nightrider and his lady are killed.
The biker gang continues on lead by a man who calls himself, “Toecutter”. The gang rampages throughout the countryside despite the passing of their friend. Max and his partner Goose finally track down one of the guys in the gang. The scene where they capture Johnny is an interesting one at best. Director George Miller maps out the moment very carefully. When Goose approaches the woman who is terrified and bloody, you start getting emotionally involved. He carries the woman to the car and Max looks sad, but unfazed by the events that transpired. Things finally start to pick up during Johnny’s trial. No one shows up to testify so the case is thrown out and Johnny is let go. Goose is shocked that the criminal goes free and lunges out to Johnny at an attempt to attack him. The lead man of the Main Force Patrol tells his squad that they can go after the gang as long as they don’t leave a trail.
For the majority of the film, everything has been very slow paced. You can’t really tell that Max that will be the main focus until his partner Johnny gets caught in the crossfire. This is where Max starts to build up anger. He tells the chief that he can’t take the madness anymore and needs to be with his family. Max takes a vacation hoping to get away with his wife and child, but trouble follows them. The end of the film is truly where Max starts to become mad and for good reason.
While the script is simple, the action is something completely different. This is before we had things like CG or any other fancy computer effects to complete shots that we couldn’t do with a stuntman. The opening is what sells you on this film. The viewer is just thrown into this world without explanation or reason. You learn everything else later. Gibson shines in this role and reminds you of why he became a household name in the first place.
It’s easy to see why Mad Max has built up the fanbase that it has over the years. The film has been a great influence to other action films along the way. Simplicity works well here. It proves that movies don’t need half of the crap they do now. Sometimes it’s just best to have a movie that presents itself as is—a fun action flick with a little heart.
Video: This is definitely not the most pristine of conversions. The transfer is still grainy. It’s too dark in some spots and I felt like my eyes continuously had to adjust. This film came out thirty years ago, so I don’t expect perfection. The action scenes do seem to shine though. (1.85:1 Widescreen).
Audio: The sound was good on this one. There were only a few times when the audio seemed a little lower in places than others. Best part? Original Australian audio track. (5.1 DTS-HD).
Commentary with Jon Dowding, David Eggby, Chris Murray and Tom Ridge: This one is definitely for the hardcore fans of the Mad Max series. It’s quite interesting to get into the technical aspect as well as hearing about how the stunts were executed. It covers most of the aspects of the film. It’s sort of disappointing that George Miller isn’t included.
Mad Max: The Film Phenomenon Featurette (25:00): From what I was told by a Mad Max fan, a lot of the content was but on the special edition DVD that was released a few years back. This is still an interesting featurette to check out though. It’s a short documentary that gives a good look into the world of Mad Max.