‘MAD MAX’ IN AUSTRALIA – The New York Times


By Tom Buckley

See the article in its original context from June 14, 1980, Section 1, Page 13Buy Reprints
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Along with such pests as jackrabbits and kangaroos, Australia ”a few years from now” is being afflicted by predatory motorcycle gangs. An elite leather-clad highway police force has been established to oppose them.

This is the flimsy plot line of ”Mad Max,” which opens today at the Embassy 5, but it provides an adequate framework for some vivid chase-and-crash sequences across the unpopulated outback and a heavy dose of sadism with obvious homosexual overtones.

The title figure is a relatively normal member of the police force, played by Mel Gibson, who decides to take the law, such as it is, into his own hands after his wife, played by Joanne Samuel, is dreadfully injured and their young son is murdered by the bikers.

He sets his jaw like Clint Eastwood in ”Dirty Harry,” gets a supercharged black speedster out of the police garage and with a sawed-off shotgun in his holster wreaks a terrible vengeance. In the final sequence, for example, he gives the last survivor of the motorcycle gang his choice of sawing his own leg off or being burned to death.

”Mad Max” is ugly and incoherent, and aimed, probably accurately, at the most uncritical of moviegoers. It’s worth noting that much of the rudimentary dialogue in this Australian film has been dubbed from ”strine,” the thick dialect of the subcontinent, into country-andwestern English. You can tell because the lip movement and sound are often slightly out of synchronization.

The Cast

MAD MAX, directed by George Miller with Mel Gibson; written by James McCausland and George Miller; cameraman, David Eggby; edited by Tony Paterson; music by Brian May; produced by Byron Kennedy; released by American International, a Filmways Company. At the Embassy 5, West 46th Street and Broadway. Running time: 93 minutes. This film is rated R.

Max Rockatansky . . . . . Mel GibsonJessie . . . . . Joanne SamuelToecutter . . . . . Hugh Keays-ByrneJim Goose . . . . . Steve BisleyJohnny the Boy . . . . . Tim BurnsFifi Macaffee . . . . . Roger Ward

A version of this article appears in print on , Section 1, Page 13 of the National edition with the headline: ‘MAD MAX’ IN AUSTRALIA.