Brief Review: Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981)

Mad Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) returns to the screen in this thrilling stunt-filled spectacle.

Set a few years after the events of Mad Max, The Road Warrior shows a future where civilisation has completely collapsed. Fuel is the new currency in this nightmarish world, with what little remains of the population left to scavenge the wasteland for this scarce resource.

During the course of the story, Max discovers the location of an oil refinery that is under constant threat from a ruthless gang of marauders. The leader of this gang, The Humungus (Kjell Nilsson) offers the defenders of the facility safe passage in exchange for their surrender. If he is to obtain the fuel he needs, Max must aid in the defence of the refinery.

Director George Miller has refined both his craft and his vision for this instalment. Gone are the things that held Mad Max back; the often slow pace and the forgettable characters. Instead, Miller has concentrated solely on what made the original work, namely the action scenes, the portrayal of a stark depopulated future and the simmering insanity of those left in it.

Visually, The Road Warrior is incredible. Shots of vast stretches of barren desert littered with the rusty remains of old vehicles create an indelible image of a scary future.

Mel Gibson’s second outing as Max is a much more confident turn. With barely a few lines of dialogue, Gibson brings to life a character that is a lost soul who eventually regains his humanity through his selfless acts to save a besieged community.

Other notable performances are Vernon Wells’ gleefully deranged biker Wez, Bruce Spence’s wacky Gyro Captain and Kjell Nilsson’s articulate monster The Humungus.

With more than a few nods towards the Western genre, The Road Warrior is an absolute blast from start to finish. Worthy of its cult-classic status, this is the best in the series to date.

4-stars

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