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Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981) // (Watch With Spooool #8)

This is a follow-up to our May/June “Watch With Spooool”. Listen to the podcast for more.

Read Páraic’s piece on MAD MAX (1979).

mad max 2

Nigel’s Verdict: ★★★★

Released: Original Australian release on Christmas Eve 1981. Irish release on 30 April 1982.

Awards: Various, including the Los Angeles Film Critics Association award for Best Foreign Film

Fun Fact: Promotion for the film didn’t refer to Max character at all, and didn’t mention that the film was a sequel, giving it the new title of The Road Warrior

 

poster2If you were to watch Mad Max: Fury Road and then revisit the original two films in the series as we did for the latest in the “Watch With Spooool” series then the first film in the series would leave you feeling a little confused about the dystopian world that Miller created. Of course we now know that budget constraints prevented him from fully realising his ideas with the first outing, but in Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior we come close to seeing just how clearly 2015’s Fury Road realised George Miller’s world – before the troubled excess of 1985’s Tina Turner-infused Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.

This film begins with a fantastic introductory prologue which basically removes the need to see the first film, converting it instead into nothing but a source of archive footage for a montage. It’s great editing and is fun to see now how well it played into the studio’s plans to market the film as a stand-alone new work.

The film opens as Max is now roaming the outback looking for gas, food and drink (what more does a guy need in the not-too-distant future?). He gets himself into some trouble and crosses a massive gang led by the insane, mohawked Wez (Vernon Wells). Max ends up aligned to a group trying to defend a massive fuel compound, eventually finding himself leading them in an escape mission driving a huge truck.

The film’s leathery costumes and soft-punky hairstyles mean it has dated a little, but take that out of the equation and you’ve got a classic Western where Max Rockatansky and his cattle dog are playing their version of the bruised and battered man with no name.

The roots of Tom Hardy’s “Max 2015” lie here with a performance from Gibson of lots of physicalness and minimal dialogue, with the focus instead on the revenge and grief that he’s going through following the massacre of his family in the first film. He’s not so much mad Max as brooding, noble and mighty Max – though that would have been a little harder to fit in the poster…

Páraic will disagree with me, but I’d say if you’re to watch one film in the series, make it this one.

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Nigel

Nigel loves stupid films almost as much as he likes clever films. He'll watch anything but is usually drawn to documentaries, North American independent films, Irish cinema and gung-ho, balls-to-the-walls Hollywood blockbusters. Here's what he's been watching.

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Comments

Agreed that this is the best of the bunch. After seeing Fury Road, this is my take on the life cycle of Mad Max:

Mad Max: Indie
Road Warrior: Art
Thunderdome: Hollywood
Fury Road: Comic Book

If you’re going to write a blog post from the position of being an authority on a subject, it might help to thoroughly research the topic.

Wez is not the leader. Lord Humoungus is the leader. The same Humoungus who South Park named a queef after.

Wez is a dog of war belonging to Lord Humoungus. He represents the hypothesis that without civilization, humans will improve their ability to survive by adopting animalistic traits.

After betraying the authority of Lord Humoungus, Wez is chained. He later releases himself in order to attack Max while driving the semi truck.

Mad Max- Society is beginning to fray and the biker gangs are a manifestation of the weakening authority provided by civilization.

Road Warrior- In remote areas, civilization is completely gone. The refinery represents and oasis of both. An outpost of civilization in a frontier teeming with savages. The denizens of the refinery hope and believe civilization continues to exist elsewhere.

Beyond Thunderdome- What happens when George Miller’s friend and co-producer is killed and the entire project is delegated to a vision-less production team.

Mad Max: Fury Road- The distant future from MM1, the world is bereft of civilization and resources. Miller has spent considerable time polishing the script, while allowing a comic book nerd to oversee set design, costumes, and props.

Hi Seth! Thanks for reading. I’m really not claiming to be an authority on the subject, this was my first time seeing the film and this is a reaction. Thanks for all the fan info on Miller’s world!

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