Friday, July 17, 2009

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981)

By Eric Jessen 7/16/09

The Road Warrior, the second in the Mad Max trilogy, creates a new, more rightful persona for the action hero. Mad Max doesn't protect the weak and “good” people because he is kind and moral. He doesn't attempt to defeat the “bad” because they are immoral. (And he also doesn't always get the girl. ) Instead Mad Max (Mel Gibson) is as the movie says a “desolate” man: lonely, wandering, scrounging the earth for food and oil to fuel his V8 engine. He knows only driving, fighting and most of all the Australian desert “post apocalypse wild west” rules of survival. He has lost his wife and child (in the previous movie) but he doesn't, as James Bond would, just get a new girl. When one sexy number gives him the “thank you for saving me, now I'm ready for bed” routine, Mad Max doesn't even bat an eye. In fact he is almost dead inside. We see only small glimpses of his ability to care for people other than himself. He suffers and faces death every day and yet, he plugs along. He has the strength and courage to defend himself so he lives.
He doesn't sound much like a hero, but as circumstances arise he finds himself fighting for the right team: the good guys. Mad Max doesn't survive by taking advantage of others, while at the same times not letting the villainous take advantage of him. He lives by “fair is fair,” “a deal's a deal.”
The Road Warrior is a superb action movie. Mel Gibson is terrific as the cold blooded hero. The first sequel in the Mad Max series took the strong base from the first movie, “style, an exotic setting, some cool chase scenes”, and ramped up the creativity. This movie is full of strange and fascinating images and full of interesting gadgets. The villains who were awful in Mad Max, are less stupid, less annoying and at least tolerable. They still howl and scream but at least they don't laugh uncontrollably like they're supposed to be imitating someone high on drugs as they did in the first movie (and in Death Wish).
This movie is very entertaining and the ending is an instant favorite. Here's a preview. Mad Max makes a deal with the “good guys” to get back at the “bad guys” and ends up a sacrificial lamb: all the more satisfying. I'm ready for thirds.

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