Mad Max – 3.5 stars

George Miller’s frenetic, creepy vision of a future where a version of The Wild Ones terrorizes the roads is a confident, distinctive picture made all the more impressive by its paltry $400,000 budget. Miller went on to make The Road Warrior, cementing Mel Gibson as the most bankable of stars, but in Mad Max, Gibson barely resonates until he is transformed, ala’ Charles Bronson in Death Wish, into a silent, dispenser of retributive violence. His payback is gripping, played out on a widescreen lens at high speeds on the desolate roads of Australia. Still, the picture stops dead in its tracks halfway through as we wait for the brutal thugs of the road to incur Gibson’s rage. It is also the worst scored film in the history of movies, a blaring and bizarre Bernard Hermann knock-off.

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