The Mad Max Series
Mad Max (May 30/15)
Set within a post-apocalyptic wasteland, Mad Max follows Mel Gibson's Max Rockatansky as he struggles to maintain law and order in the face of an increasingly violent population. Filmmaker George Miller has infused Mad Max with the structure of an old-school western, essentially, as the movie predominantly revolves around the title character's ongoing battle with a gang of ruthless bikers (led by Hugh Keays-Byrne's malevolent Toecutter). The relative lack of action and distinctly uneven plotting is, for the most part, not as problematic as one might've feared, with Gibson's thoroughly charismatic performance, along with Miller's treatment of the film's few high-octane moments, going a long way towards keeping things interesting for the majority of Mad Max's mercifully brief running time. It's worth noting, however, that the film does suffer from a palpable lull as it progresses into its uneventful midsection, with the spinning-its-wheels vibe perpetuated by a surplus of time-wasting, decidedly pointless interludes (eg a character enjoys a cabaret show). The energetic final stretch ensures that Mad Max concludes on an appreciatively positive note, although, in the end, it's rather difficult to see why the film has amassed such a glowing reputation in the years since its 1979 debut.
The Road Warrior
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome
Mad Max: Fury Road (August 8/15)
Set within a desolate post-apocalyptic wasteland, Mad Max: Fury Road follows Tom Hardy's Max Rockatansky as he must help a fierce warrior (Charlize Theron's Imperator Furiosa) smuggle precious cargo out of a warlord's ruthless grip. Filmmaker George Miller has clearly spared no expense in bringing this almost alien world to life and the movie does, as a result, possess a lot of potential in its early scenes, with the stunning production design heightened by Miller's crisp, refreshingly coherent visuals and a series of above-average performances. (In terms of the latter, however, it's impossible to overlook the fact that much of the film's dialogue is rendered unintelligible by heavy accents and a cranked-up soundtrack.) It's only as the thinly-plotted narrative begins moving in earnest that one's interest begins to flag, as Miller's difficulties in establishing any real sense of momentum makes it impossible to care about the various characters' continuing exploits - with the erratic atmosphere perpetuated by a screenplay that essentially lurches from one aggressively over-the-top action sequence to the next (ie the connective tissue is so slight that the myriad of larger-than-life set pieces eventually just become exhausting.) The viewer's lack of interest is exacerbated by Miller's refusal/inability to transform any of the movie's protagonists into legitimately engaging figures, and it is, as a result, difficult to work up much enthusiasm for their progressively perilous exploits or their ongoing efforts at taking down the aforementioned warlord. The endless action of the film's third act ensures that Mad Max: Fury Road concludes on a decidedly underwhelming note and it's ultimately impossible not to wish that Miller hadn't, at any point, followed the old less-is-more axiom.