Set in Australia in a post dystopian future (something entirely believable today) the first movie of the Mad Max franchise is a trendsetter. Vengeful cop Max, played brilliantly by a young Mel Gibson, wants revenge on a biker gang that roams the highways and steals fuel, among other things. In Max's sights, the heartless leader, Toecutter – what a name!
While the plot is fascinating at a basic level, and Gibson has his moments, the real star here is the car. Basically, a heavily worked-over 70's Ford Falcon GT, tuned to take on the gang's super-bikes, the 'Pursuit Special’ just jumps off the screen. It has everything – flared wheel arches, aftermarket 'Concorde' nose, a massive 351 cubic-inch V8 engine, an insane 6-71 Weiand bus supercharger, a Nitrous Oxide injection and a claimed 600hp; all semi-believable. Even the bike scenes are superbly shot, especially, the Z1000; ah, what an exhaust note!
What you want to watch again and again are the action sequences, almost all of them real. On the Pursuit Special, the director uses bonnet-mounted cameras, both looking forward and back, which show the massive belt-driving supercharger whining away. Epic. And in the opening chase sequence, you are on the edge of your seat and really do get a sense of speed. Made on a low budget of around USD 300,000 it grossed over a 100 million at the international box office. The Pursuit Special even made a return in the 2015 Mad Max: Fury Road. Yes, in 2020, it does feel like an old movie at times and some of the conversations are a bit too stilted, but if you haven't seen it or can't remember it well enough, you can't go wrong with this cult classic.
Mad Max is available on Apple iTunes.