Mad Max is a 1979 Australian dystopia action film directed by George Miller and written by Miller and Byron Kennedy. The film's starring role is played by the then relatively unknown Mel Gibson. Its narrative based around the traditional western genre, Mad Max tells a story of breakdown of society, murder, and vengeance. It became a top-grossing Australian film and has been credited for further opening up the global market to Australian New Wave films. The film was also notable for being the first Australian film to be shot with a widescreen anamorphic lens.
It has had a lasting influence on apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction. The first in the Mad Max franchise, Mad Max spawned sequels Mad Max 2 (known in the United States as The Road Warrior) in 1981 and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome in 1985. The fourth film in the series, tentatively titled Mad Max 4: Fury Road, is in production.
The film opens "A Few Years From Now..." in Australia, in a dystopia future where law and order has begun to break down at the end of the 'Oil Age'. Berserk motorcycle gang member, Crawford "Nightrider" Montizano, has broken police custody and – with a punk woman by his side – is attempting to flee from the Main Force Patrol (MFP), the Federal highway police unit, in a stolen MFP Pursuit Special. Though he manages to elude his initial pursuers, the Nightrider then encounters the MFP's "top pursuit man," leather-clad Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson). Max, the more skilled driver, pursues the Nightrider in a high-speed nerve-racking chase which results in the death of the Nightrider and the woman in a fiery car crash.
Nightrider's Armalite motorcycle gang – led by the barbaric "Toecutter" (Hugh Keays-Byrne) and his lieutenant Bubba Zanetti (Geoff Parry) – is running roughshod over a country town, vandalizing property, stealing fuel and terrorising the local population. Max and his fellow officer Jim 'The' Goose (Steve Bisley) are able to arrest the Toecutter's young protege, Johnny the Boy (Tim Burns), when Johnny lingers at the scene of one of the gang’s crimes, the rape of a young couple. However, when no witnesses show for his trial, the courts declare the case not able be prosecuted and Johnny is released. A shocked Goose attacks Johnny and must be physically restrained; both Goose and Johnny shout threats of revenge at each other. After Bubba drags Johnny away, MFP Captain Fifi Macaffee (Roger Ward) frees his officers to pursue the gangs as they want, "so long as the paperwork's clean."
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