Friday’s Favorite Flix – Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior
After the incredible success of "Mad Max," George Miller also directed the sequel called "Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior" for Warner Bros. Mel Gibson once again starred as Max, a somewhat unhinged ex-cop roaming the backroads of post-apocalyptic Australia in a super charged police pursuit vehicle.
This movie received considerable critical acclaim including winning the Saturn Award for best international film in 1982. In addition to the award, there were five additional nominations including Best Director for George Miller, Best Actor for Mel Gibson, Best Supporting Actor for Bruce Spence as the Gyro Pilot, Best Writing and Best costume Design.
Like the first Mad Max movie, Road Warrior was a huge success at the box office, earning over $10 Million in Australia and nearly $24 Million in the US and Canada.
The first Mad Max movie opined that the world was going to hell as a result of a shortage of oil. The opening credits of Road Warrior states this opinion outright, with a barrage of still photos and short film clips depicting riots and general chaos surrounding oil refineries and oil fields. The message is clear, civilization is not surviving without an abundance of oil.
The Road Warrior opens with Max being chased by members of a roving gang through the Outback. Max manages to get two of the gang member vehicles to smash into one another, thus evening the odds of the conflict. The remaining gang member rides off on his motorcycle rather than meet the same fate as his comrades. Max is left to scavenge what fuel he can from the mangled vehicles. Before he leaves the accident scene, he investigates a nearby tractor trailer rig.
Friday’s Favorite Flix are descriptions of those movies we love – We either own them or when channel surfing, we’ll stop when we find them and settle down to watch.
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We next see max investigating a gyro-copter that is sitting in a clearing just off the road. The owner of the gyro ambushes Max and briefly captures him. When the gyro captain also tries to take Max’s car, he meets Max’s dog – teeth first. The gyro captain begs Max not to kill him, offering up the location of unlimited fuel in exchange for his life. Proving that there a glimmer of humanity left inside him, Max agrees.
The refinery is where the gyro captain said it was but is besieged by a large group of gang members trying to get to the fuel. The gang leader is led by a psycho named Wez, played by Vernon Wells. Wez tries to convince the small group of people defending the refinery that they would be granted safe passage if they surrender the refinery to him. Max witnesses this exchange while scouting the location from an elevated ridge overlooking the refinery.
When a small group of defenders try to escape, max watches from his vantage point as they are chased down and killed one by one. At a safe distance, Max follows the one car that comes in his general direction. This attempted escape ends as the other ones did. Once the gang members leave, Max investigates. He finds a dead woman and a man left for dead but still clinging to life. Max makes a deal to return him to the refinery compound in exchange for a full tank of fuel. Max fulfills his end of the bargain, but the man dies shortly after being returned. The leader of the refinery defenders tells Max that his deal died with the man he made it with.
Switching gears, Max convinces the defenders of the refinery to give him fuel In exchange for him delivering the big rig tractor that we saw him investigating earlier. The tractor is big enough to haul the tanker trailer they have parked in the compound. Max retrieves the tractor and makes it back to the refinery as agreed. He is given a full tank of gas, which he uses to try his own escape. The blower equipped pursuit vehicle is not quite fast enough to run away from nitrous equipped chase vehicles, and Max is wrecked. Max crawls from the wreckage as several gang members arrive and go after the fuel in his tanks. A booby trap is triggered when the gas cap is opened. It blows the gas tanks up, kills most of the gang members and destroys the pursuit vehicle. Max is just far enough away that he escapes with his life.
Without a car, or any other viable options, Max makes his way back to the refinery compound. He offers to drive the tanker rig as a decoy so the other members of the compound can try to escape. The plan works. Nearly all of the gang members go after the tanker truck which allows the remaining members of the compound to run in the other direction in a school bus and an assortment of other vehicles. The gang members let the non-threatening convoy leave and claim the refinery as their prize. As the gang members celebrate their occupation of the refinery, time-delay explosives detonate and destroy the refinery and all of the occupiers.
The scene cuts back to the gang members pursuing Max. As we suspected they would, the gang catches up and ultimately wrecks the tanker. It is only then that we discover that the tanker was full of sand – not gasoline. Another quick cut back to the escaping defenders shows that the school bus was not just carrying people, but also barrels full of gasoline. The defenders of the refinery have clearly won and ride off into the distance. The final scene is of Max walking down a deserted road into the sunset.
This installment of Mad Max didn’t have quite the level of character development as Mad Max 1, but there was enough to emotionally invest me in the characters. The story line had a clear beginning, middle and end. The good guys won and the bad guys were blown up. All in all this film had all of the elements of a well-rounded action movie.
One measure of a quality movie is that it should stand on its own merits - especially if it is a part of a larger trilogy. Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior measures up just fine, and earns the accolades given to it.
About Brian Hill
Brian Hill is a home theater enthusiast who has an extensive background in sales. His interests include music & movies, F1 & NASCAR auto racing, hot rods (he has a '56 Nomad) and hockey — Go Sharks!
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