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Mad Max Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 70

    out of 100


    The film belongs to the director, cameraman and stunt artists: it’s not an actor’s piece, though the leads are all effective.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    It's pretty much assumed throughout art and literature that the collapse of civilization will result in the rise of barbarism. That assumption underlies Mad Max, where the strong prey on the weak, and Max steps in to be the equalizer.

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  • 90

    out of 100

    Newsweek Jack Kroll

    Junky, freaky, sadistic, masochistic, Mad Max has a perverse intelligence revving inside its pop exterior. It's a crazy collide-o-scope, a gear-stripping vision of human destiny careening toward a cosmic junkyard. [21 July 1980, p.71]

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 15+

Outlandish post-apocalyptic action is too brutal for kids.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this 1979 movie is a celebration and an onslaught of intense, cartoonish violence, though it's probably a bit tamer than some of today's films. The hero, Mad Max (Mel Gibson) is actually a good and kind soul with a loving family that he goes home to at the end of a long day of high-speed chases and shootouts. But he's outnumbered by the evil, sadistic people in this post-apocalyptic world, and despite the dark laughs and adrenaline bursts the movie inspires, the movie presents a more or less hopeless vision of the future. The laughs and cheers stop when characters are raped or burned alive, and the hero's "reward" for trying to be with his family is a terrible punishment; he spends the movie's last ten minutes seeking brutal revenge.

  • Families can talk about the general lawlessness and violence of this post-apocalyptic future. Does it look like fun? Or is it a little scary? If you were Max, would you have tried to go away with your family as well?
  • This movie is known for its over-the-top violence, before the heydey of such films. What other movies can you think of like this today?
  • Are there any acts of kindness in the film? How are they received?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: The point of Mad Max is to rile up its viewers with outlandish portrayals of extreme violence. The bad guys seem to outnumber the good guys, and just about anything goes. The bad guys never seem to regret or reconsider their behavior. In fact, the crazier they are, the more followers they seem to have. The good guys do their job as if it's only a matter of time before they're killed; it's a rather hopeless movie under its good-time surface. The hero tries to get away from it all with his wife and child, but he is severely punished for thinking that there's a way out from all the violence.

  • rolemodels true1

    Role models: In spite of the overwhelming violence and hopelessness of this post-apocalyptic future, Max is a decent role model, if you can overlook the fact that his job requires high-speed chases, guns, and a great deal of violence. At home, he is very loving with his wife and child, and when things begin to get tough, his first thought is to try and protect them. When he quits his job he does it while he is still on the right side, and before he becomes just as bad as the maniacs he's trying to stop. Unfortunately, his last act in the movie's final ten minutes is violent, cruel revenge on those who wronged him.

What to watch for
  • violence false4

    Violence: A collection of extreme, over-the-top comic-book-type violence is slightly tempered by several scenes of the hero's blissful, relaxing home life. But during the violent parts, we get any number of car chases and crashes, guns, severed limbs, and gory corpses. A man is burned alive inside a car. A motorcycle runs over someone's arm. A bad guy shoots Mad Max through the leg. In what looks like a failed attempt at a stunt, a moving motorcycle actually smacks a man in the head. Rape is suggested but not shown. Children are sometimes in danger.

  • sex false3

    Sex: A naked couple has sex, but seen only from a distance, through a rifle scope. Mad Max and his wife kiss and cuddle on the shore, while Max is shirtless. A young couple is seen waking up in the back seat of a car, half dressed (no nudity). We see one naked male derriere. Some of the bad guys pretend to make love to a store mannequin.

  • language false3

    Language: A fairly frequent and assorted use of foul language, including at least one "f--k" and at least one "s--t." Other words include "asshole," "bitch," "bastard," and "Christ." It should be noted that the hero does not use foul language.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false1

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Max enjoys a small glass of beer at home. Characters are briefly seen smoking and drinking in a cabaret.