Nothing signals fearsome battles more than angry men on motorcycles. Add an element of limited natural resources and families in jeopardy, and you have a few hours of escapist entertainment. This formula worked very well in "Mad Max," from 1979. The movie was followed by two sequels. Recently, a trailer was released for "Mad Max: Fury Road," which will feature Tom Hardy as the blisteringly efficient Max.
"Mad Max" is set in Australia in an apocalyptic future. In this future, the poorly supported police force spends much of its time battling dangerous motorcycle gangs whose members have no respect for humanity and virtually no redeeming qualities. The most effective cop on the force is the young Max Rockatansky (played by Mel Gibson). Although he can be ruthless in his work, he has a domestic side, which we see when he is with his wife and son. When his family is brutally murdered by gang members, Max becomes very depressed and, of course, vows revenge.
Although the movie was made on a low budget, "Mad Max" works just as well as a lot of big budget films. It is directed by George Miller, who does an effective job staging big car chase scenes with a lot of unabashed destruction. This is particularly true in the opening action scene.
The movie features one of Mel Gibson's first major movie roles. It is easy to understand why he went on to become a big-name star since he does very strong work, commanding every scene that he is in. He instills Max with both brutal and human instincts, rendering him a character for whom many audience members can cheer.
"Mad Max" is a great start to a great franchise. Hopefully, "Mad Max: Fury Road" will be just as good.