Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior

a53c13372cc8d6fbcc97829b65d226f4.jpgDirector: George Miller. Starring: Mel Gibson, Bruce Spence, Vernon Wells. Australia, 1981. Budget: $2 million. IMDb: 7.6. My rating: 2/4. Post-apocalyptic gory gasoline obsessed car chasing sci-fi.

– I’m just here for the gasoline.
(Max Rockatansky)

There are some things I cannot understand. Premise: I enjoyed “Fury Road”, I love post-apocalyptic themes, I fully comprehend that in 1981 it was ground-breaking (and in 1979 as well), that it was shot for laughable $2 million, it had the cutie Mel Gibson and it was an Australian movie.

But how the hell in a cult film that is widely recognized as one of the best action movies ever made there is so little action and so much talking?

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The first action sequence that we see ends at 6th minute and the next one starts at 48th minute. Yes. For roughly 42 minutes there is real action (okay, there was a guy who shot a rabbit and few other people died, but it wasn’t an action sequence).

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I’m not even an action cinema addict and do perfectly fine without it, but there should be something else then to substitute it. The chases, action scenes, designs, vehicles, costumes, the overall insanity levels, hundreds of small details are just gorgeous in the Road Warrior – it looks raw, original and powerful. But since there is no plot, no explanation of what happened to the world, and almost no deep dialogues, all these things will barely work, if the there’s little action and the characters spend so much time just talking about where to get the gasoline.

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I’m not even sure that it’s worth mentioning everybody’s weird obsession with the gas in this movie since it seems they spend more gas when they use their vehicles to search it. We never know why the gas is so precious, it seems that the gangs use it only to find more gas. But it’s fine. I accept the rules of the game.

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What made this movie so big? The car chases and the overall tone. As Celtic Predator from Express Elevator to Hell rightfully noticed, ”the final 20-minute chase sequence in TRW speaks for itself, and laid the foundation for all future vehicular chase sequences in action filmmaking. You take away that chase sequence, and much of the film’s iconic stature decreases.” Add Mel Gibson, who became a star after the first part, which was one of the most profitable movies ever – an impressive box office of roughly $100 million against the $200,000 budget.

The first movie was also the signal and the huge influence for a new era that was coming – “Mad Max” gave green light to all the famous action movies of the 80-s (“Die Hard”, “Rambo” and lots of others). Here‘s a very good insight:

Screenshot_20170629-050910As for “The Road Warror”… Probably the budget constraints very extremely relevant, but… If the first movie grossed that good, why Miller couldn’t invest more in the second part? Well, probably because there was no need to cook the golden goose… ”The Road Warrior” grossed much less, but was still incredibly profitable ($2 million budget and roughly $50 million world box office). The state of the Australian cinema at that time was also not the same as we know it now. The first installment was even dubbed with American accent to facilitate the film for the US audience.

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Worth watching? It’s gorgeous at times and the car chases still look incredible, but… The movie didn’t age well. I think at least half of the Earth’s male population was happy that George Miller himself decided finally to develop the gritty tone of the film – the 2015 Mad Max is jam-packed with action and insanity levels that stands nowhere near the original trilogy, making it a little outdated. And like in the original trilogy, most things are were really shot, not created on the computer. It still has the spirit of a B-movie. 30 years later with a $150 million budget. Incredible story.

Later in his career Miller directed “Happy Feet” and “Babe: Pig in the City”.

Watch instead: ”Mad Max: Road Fury”, ”A Boy and His Dog” (this is film that actually influenced Mad Max).

2 thoughts on “Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior

  1. I had a lot more fun with Road Warrior than you did, but you raised many good points, here. As a self-proclaimed action-junkie myself, I was never as hung up on the Mad Max franchise *until* Fury Road came along, but I think that final 20-minute chase sequence in TRW speaks for itself, and laid the foundation for all future vehicular chase sequences in action filmmaking. You take away that chase sequence, and much of the film’s iconic stature decreases.

    As for the rules of the world concerning gasoline and whatnot, I’d argue that’s simply a function of the movie’s emphasis on car combat and chase sequences. It also makes perfect sense given the motivation of the civilian outpost, a conflict to which Max becomes tied; they just want to get the fuck out of there, and to do that, they need gas. The antagonists want gas to travel long distances of the post-apocalyptic wasteland to ravage as far and wide as they see. There’s not much more to it than that.

    That being said, Fury Road makes The Road Warrior obsolete as far as I’m concerned. Everything positive about TRW is carried to the nth degree by FR, and more to the point, the latter is a “true” action film, essentially a cinematic narrative that tells its *entire* story through action. It’s basically nonstop chase sequences, shootouts, and fisticuffs the entire time, and it’s more narratively coherent than most films in general, regardless of genre. That scrap b/w Max and Furiosa puts most hand-to-hand combat films and kung fu movies to shame.

    So I guess I agree w/ you for the most. The only comparable one-upsmanships of a classic title by a modern reboot I can think of are Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy and the new Planet of the Apes trilogy. Fury Road is everything George Miller always wanted TWR to be.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good analysis as always. Yeah, I knew you’re slightly more interested in action than me and read your TRW review.

      The point is that car chase sequences were great indeed, even the opening scene, but it was shot in a very cool and dynamic way. So I guess all of that was incredibly innovative at that time and more boring movie parts were accepted easily by the public. All of this is understandable. Action movies often don’t age well.

      “Fury Road” as we see it now is probably similar to how “TRW” was seen at the time of its release.

      Planet of Apes franchise was an unexpected thing for me. Well, I still have to see the third part, but I guess (the trailer seems to be honest) it’ll be even more impressing than two others. I also have to admit I haven’t seen the original trilogy.

      As for the classic title reboots, I think you summed it up well. The only thing that comes to my mind now is “The Invasion of the Body Snatchers”.

      Maybe we can step it up a little and consider “Edge of Tomorrow” as the reboot of “Groundhog Day”, ha-ha.
      Sorry, I just love both movies so much.

      Like

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