Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981)


I have to say here that my first love, when we talk about the film genre, is fantasy, with sci-fi and horror. My childhood fantasy films are mostly related to the Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Mad Max trilogies. By the way, Road Warrior was released in 1981, and some great films have been released, such as Riders of the Lost Ark, Evil Dead, Escape from New York, Excalibur, etc. Yes, the eighties are, at least for me, the golden age of films, especially those from the fantasy genre. Let’s go back to our film.

Miller took the whole Mad Max story to the next level, to the distant future where the world as we know it has disappeared, and those remnants of the law from the first film no longer exist. The world is now a great wasteland where the few survivors are fighting over the remaining oil reserves. Everyone is for themselves, and all one can hope for is to survive another day. That survival is even harder with gangs roaming the world. They have no mercy and will hunt and kill anyone who gets in their way.

A large group of robbers, led by Lord Humungus (Kjell Nilsson), stumbled upon the loot, not just any one they dream of, one that can give them an inexhaustible source of gasoline. That prey is located in the middle of the desert, where a small group of immigrants extract and process oil. Humungus attacks them every day. However, the refinery is well fortified and armed, but daily attacks make them weaker and it is only a matter of time before their defenses are broken. As happens in times of great temptation, a warrior appears bringing hope and salvation, even if he himself is not aware of it. In our story, that warrior and savior is Max (Mel Gibson).

Every time I talk about this film, the first word I say is Miller. Yes, the great master behind the Mad Max franchise is George Miller. He directed his second film in a row and made his second film a classic, which few directors can boast of. He used the same recipe from the first film, then took the same ingredients and carefully mixed them into his second perfect film dish. Only this time he made a turn, one that made this film even more special and delicious.

The recipe followed step by step. He wrote a screenplay based on his first film, and the main character is again Max Rokatanski, only this time he took us further into the future. Then he found a place that would perfectly show the devastated world from his story. After that, he hired an excellent group of actors, and the last thing that will wrap it all up is music. He hired Brian May for the music, the same man who did that job in the previous film.

So he used the same approach as in the 1979 film. We have a cruel and raw world in which the story takes place. It’s a world full of violence, and when it comes to violence, Miller had big problems with Australian censorship, so entire scenes were cut from the film. Next, we have crazy car chases and impressive and realistic stunt stunts. The operation of the camera is brilliant and simply draws you into action. The photo is beautiful with desert landscapes that bring a real sense of the devastated world, just the way Miller had in mind. The costumes are gorgeous and look like some Star Wars Punk style. The music is strong and, just like in the first film, completely in the service of the story.

And what about the characters? When I talk about them, I must say that Miller is a man who has a gift. Just like in the previous film, he found a group of striking actors for striking roles. Mel Gibson is great in the role of Max. Compared to his earlier role, he is now much more mature, more convincing, and that was the moment when his movie star shone and continued to shine all these years. Vernon Wells as Embroidery, the extremely dangerous and sick Humungus war dog, is excellent. He is extremely convincing in the role of Max’s toughest opponent. I have already mentioned Kjell Nilsson as Humungus. Although he wears a mask all the time, his performance in this film is unforgettable. There are so many other characters worth mentioning, but it is something you will discover by watching this remarkable film.

We finally come to that special ingredient, the craft, which I mentioned before. Yes, this time Miller has a craft in making his perfect dish and that craft is actually the character of the Giro Captain (Bruce Spence). Bruce plays perhaps the most impressive character in this film. But his role brings something special, something the first film didn’t have, and that’s humor, and Bruce brings it with style. While the first film was one of the cruelest and crudest films ever, the latter is interwoven with humor that elevates this classic to a whole other level. It was a real pleasure to watch Bruce in his great role which made this film warmer and more fun.