The title role, that of a cop on the edge in a future society run amuck, Max Rockatansky, an ad reline junky, action seeker himself. Max is also a family man, happily married and the father of a newborn son. When Max and his partner, Jim Goose (Steve Bisley) run afoul of “The Toecutter” (Hugh Keays-Byrne), a half-crazed biker, after killing one of his gang members. First killing Goose and then going after Max and his family, causing Max to resign from the police force, but “The Toecutter” and his biker gang still purses him. Ultimately killing his wife and child and sending Max over the edge.
What the movie lacks in story or grace, it more than makes up for in it’s pacing, fury and exhaust. A first film for most everyone involved, including director George Miller who would go on to win an Oscar, later in his career. The picture has that kind of urgency and passion that a great first movie has that announces itself to an audience that you must sit up and take notice.
The 70’s were a great time for road epics like “Mad Max”, the genre also included the memorable “Death Race 2000” (1975) and the amazing “Two-Lane Blacktop” (1971). The decade was also ripe with the brutally violent revenge thriller, a subgenre that is always popular. “Death Wish” (1974), “Dirty Harry” (1971), “Rolling Thunder” (1977) and “Marathon Man” (1976) , to name just a few of the superior works of the decade, “Mad Max” more than deserves a place alongside these other classics of the ruthless revenge genre.
If you’ve never seen “Mad Max”, which I’m afraid many younger people may not have, it is well worth the time and energy to watch this golden oldie. Now with Max set for a triumphant return to the big screen in the guise of Tom Hardy, now is the perfect time to seek the original out. In my humble opinion it is the best of the series, so even if you have seen the movie before, now is a great time to revisit. “Mad Max” is the designation of cool.