Director: 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.
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?
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).
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.
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.
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:
As 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.
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).