Before the days of smearing blue paint over his face and going commando in a kilt (hey, let’s not judge), Mel Gibson roamed the barren, post apocalyptic wasteland in a Ford Falcon. Of course, this is a reference to Gibson’s breakout role in the Mad Max movies which launched the actor into stardom. Let’s put on the breaks for a minute and take a rear view mirror look at the most popular movie in the Mad Max franchise. Here’s why 1981’s Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior is totally awesome.
1. Dystopian Is Not A Bad Word
There’s no shortage of dystopian movies but that doesn’t mean all of them are worth watching, in fact some are bogged down by implausible high concepts. What makes the dystopian world in Mad Max work is the straightforward explanation. It’s not too far of a stretch that mankind’s destructive nature and the world at perpetual war caused civilizations to crumble. At the same time, the backdrop is distinctive for its open desert roads where gasoline for vehicles is essential to survival.
2. Pedal To The Metal Action
The basic story of Max rescuing a small oil-rich community from crazed bandits sets the framework for the high-octane action. The opening scene quickly grabs your attention by putting you in the driver’s seat. Between the quieter moments are fiery explosions and wild car crashes, it’s impressive knowing these were done using good old fashion practical effects. There’s an epic multi-car chase which runs a tad long but it’s tightly choreographed and never falls off the rail. It’s not all car chases either, finger-slicing boomerangs and mounted flame throwers keeps viewers expecting the unexpected.
3. Man Behind The Madness
Director and writer George Miller is the man behind the Mad Max franchise. Miller’s vision for his post apocalyptic sandbox is a harsh, desolate location that resembles the wild west frontier. As quickly as Miller creates a pit-of-the-stomach unsettling scene he surprises us with a rare flash of humor. With little dialogue, Miller tells his story visually. Even in non-action scenes camera shots are rarely locked down, maintaining this action driven movie’s sense of momentum. It’ll be interesting to see how Miller will push the visual style further in 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road where he’ll have an arsenal of modern effects to play with.
4. Max Learns To Live Again
As Max, Mel Gibson exudes an intensely charismatic presence. There’s a dark, deep loss from Max’s past that is captured in Gibson’s eyes. Max may be a man of his word but he can’t be counted on doing the honorable thing. Max’s fractured faith in humanity is defined by why as much as what he’s escaping or driving away from. It’s a little ambiguous at the end whether he’s driven by revenge or if it’s a selfless act of saving those in need. Either way, his murky motivation adds nuance to this cinematic anti-hero.
5. Music To The Apocalypse
Australian composer Brian May happens to share the same name as the British Queen guitarist but there’s no mistaking his great musical score. It’s simply riveting. In much the same way that Miller’s uses visual cues such as a close up shot to inform what is significant, it’s telling when the music soars. The orchestration adds to the on-screen drama, even more so when characters have little dialogue and the action is center stage.
These are just five of many reasons why The Road Warrior is worth watching. Are there any other reasons you think should be added? How excited are you for Mad Max: Fury Road?