MadMax

Speed Week Plus: Mad Max – a Review

Motorized Mayhem Down Under! Time to take Speed Week Plus south of the Equator, to a continent comprised entirely of one country–and into the future, where civilization is on the verge of complete breakdown.

Imagine an Australia populated with butch, entitled women; supplicating nancy-boy males considered “men;” oppressed by a draconian police state hell-bent on gobbling up more power until farting in the privacy of your own toilet is a crime punishable by death…

Oh, wait. No need to imagine–Australia is just about there already. Imagine instead an Australia saved from that dystopian present by a nuclear holocaust and utter economic devastation. Whew!

That merciful cataclysm seems to be underway at the beginning of the original, unfeminized Mad Max.

I actually saw the sequel, Road Warrior, before I saw Mad Max. And having seen it, I just had to watch the original.

I should clarify something up front: I won’t be including Beyond Thunderdome for Speed Week Plus, and probably never will review it or the more recent Mad Maxine.

So the “thin blue line” Down Under has become razor thin, fighting a losing battle to keep civilization from toppling. Amoral, perverse gangs rule the roads, stealing whatever they want, raping whoever they want (which is pretty much anyone), and more than willing to murder and destroy in order to do it.

On the side of good is the MFP: Main Force Patrol. Just as our police have come to be known as “cops,” originally “coppers” because of the badges worn by New York policemen, these Aussie lawmen’s badges were made from a different metal, hence they are slurred as “the bronze” by the villains in this film (as well as the hero in Fast Cars and Rock & Roll, which pays homage to many films, including this one).

A very young Mel Gibson plays Max, the MFP’s star patrolman, who’s considering quitting the force and taking his family away from the madness. To bribe him into staying, the MFP makes an unofficial gift to him of “the last of the V8 Interceptors.” It’s a black-on-black Australian Ford Falcon, supercharged, with “Phase IV heads” and “Nitro.” By the end of the movie Max deputizes the Falcon Interceptor to run down the gang that murdered his family and made a vegetable of his friend Goose.

Mad Max Poster

By the way, the clutched supercharger on the Falcon was a pure fabrication sold via the magic of film editing. But Hollywood has plagiarized it with their own clutch-driven blowers in movies like My Science Project.

Director George Miller was fascinated with medical apperattus and you’ll see some on display in Mad Max and its sequel. He must have been equally obsessed with Catholic symbolism.

But the appeal of this movie is the high-octane action, and it’s got a lot. A lot of the speed scenes were undercranked to exaggerate the velocity of moving vehicles, yet it was accomplished with a subtle touch so that it doesn’t make everything comical.

That’s not to say there aren’t some laughable moments (dig that Roman Candle in the exhaust pipe)–if you watch the version with overdubbed American voices, it’s downright groan-worthy. So I recommend getting the version with the original soundtrack.

“We remember the Night Rider! And we know who you are.”

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