It is fascinating watching the beginning of an apocalypse unfold. Watching our world first give into greed and savagery, while the good people do their best to cope with the destruction and are either slayed or give into the madness, but all too soon the chaos becomes too much and society is overrun by the crazies, to the point that “society” and “normality” are but a myth.
Watching a film like “Mad Max,” knowing what will happen to this world in the future with “Mad Max: Fury Road,” we begin to see the wheels turning, both physically and metaphorically, of how the world will meet its end. Gasoline is scarce, people are becoming terrified of roaming gangs looking for a good time, the police is constantly overrun with crimes being called that they could never hope to answer, and everyone is holding onto something they hold dearly as tightly as they can.
The apocalypse may not have happened yet, but it is looming on the horizon, like an approaching storm.
“Mad Max,” primarily focuses on the titular character (Mel Gibson) as he attempts to maintain order in the world by stopping biker gangs. As he fails to stop more of these terrorizing thugs, and watches the world around him fall apart, his sense of purpose and belonging turns into vengeance. Max tries his best not to become like the people he hunts, but is starting to go crazy like everyone else.
Admittedly, “Mad Max” can be slow, even after a heart-pounding beginning chase sequence on a country road. The film takes its sweet time on scenes with Max interacting with his wife, Jessie (Joanne Samuel), and their vacation out in the middle of nowhere. While a nice bit to show these two desperately clinging to anything they have left, these scenes drag when there is so much high-octane action throughout.
Overall, “Mad Max” is compelling to watch as the end of humanity draws near and we are powerless to stop it. There is a sense of dread throughout, yet also a theme of acceptance from Max. The beginning and final act are intense and set the standards for what we would expect from future installments. This one might seem slow and tame compared to what would come next, but it is certainly worth a watch.
Final Grade: B