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This review is from: Mad Max  [DVD] (DVD)
Mad Max 2 is the better film, for sure: it's bigger, grislier, and more exciting. But the original is very good not just because it explains why Max is perturbed, but because it does so without compromising his character's silent and innate masculinity - which is some feat considering the amount of skin-tight leather on show.
Max himself - skilfully underplayed by Mel Gibson - is at the heart of all the main narrative turns. It's he who kills the Nightrider; his best friend who's murdered by the gang that wants to get to him; his family who are targeted for the final showdown. And yet Max is on screen quite rarely. Not that he needs to be seen: he is an archetype of sorts; the last spring of morality in an apocalyptic desert.
Thanks to a tight and sympathetic script, Max and Jessie's relationship is entirely convincing. The music, by Brian May (no, not that one), is superbly melodramatic; always complementary, never intrusive.
It's not complex. At one point Max tells his boss that if he spends any more time on the road he'll "be one of them" - we know what territory we're in, and it's not about blurring moral boundaries; it's about raw, red-blooded revenge.