Underrated classics: ‘Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior’

“Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior” was the second film directed by George Miller. (Courtesy of Warner Bros Entertainment)

Owen Johnson
Connector Staff

Before “Mad Max: Fury Road” came out in the summer of 2015, the unequivocal best film in the film series was “Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior,” and it is still close to being the best one.

In an apocalyptic wasteland following a decline in the amount of gasoline, a small group of survivors are being attacked by a gang of bandits. Trying to get some gasoline for himself, a rogue former police officer turned scavenger Max (Mel Gibson) agrees to help the community escape.

“Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior” feels like the movie director George Miller wanted to make with the 1979 film “Mad Max” but did not have the budget to do it. Now that Miller has the necessary budget, he manages to take everything that worked about “Mad Max” and improve it and fix almost everything that was wrong with it.

Some of the technical elements of the movie are a little fuzzy. For example, the sound is occasionally soft and it is hard to hear what the characters are saying. Otherwise, the movie succeeds in the departments of choreography and cinematography.

The world that is created for the film to be set in is a unique one. It is a post apocalyptic world where society has collapsed because of the lack of gasoline. The only way to survive is to scavenge, the only way to scavenge is to drive, and the only way to drive is with gasoline, so it is literally the difference between life and death.

There are a few action set pieces scattered throughout the movie and all of them are well handled. “Mad Max 2” never shies away from the gritty and realistic take on the action it shows. There is nothing epic about it, nor is there any heroism from the characters. The action is handled relatively straight-forward: it is brutal, bloody and unceremonious, which is refreshing with how action scenes tend to get glorified.

All of the characters are fairly simplistic, but that actually works in the movie’s favor. While the main goal is survival, depth is not really an issue. That is not to say the characters are unmemorable or boring, though. The apocalyptic wasteland provides a setting for a number of interesting and eccentric characters, including the crazed Gyro Captain (Bruce Spence), the vicious Lord Humungus (Kjell Nilsson) and the Feral Kid (Emil Minty) who gives a look into how a new generation would grow up in the established world.

The only big problem, and it is not even glaring at that because of Spence’s on screen presence, is that a lot of the story revolving around the Gyro Captain is under explained. His character motivation seems off on a number of occasions, and the same can be said about a few character moments he has.

“Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior” is a movie that succeeds and excels because of its simplicity.

Final Grade: A-

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