Combustible Celluloid
Stream it:
Download at i-tunes iTunes
Own it:
With: Mel Gibson, Bruce Spence, Michael Preston, Max Phipps, Vernon Wells, Kjell Nilsson, Emil Minty, Virginia Hey, William Zappa, Arkie Whiteley, Steve J. Spears, Syd Heylen, Moira Claux, David Downer, David Slingsby
Written by: Terry Hayes, George Miller, Brian Hannant
Directed by: George Miller
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 96
Date: 05/20/1982

The Road Warrior (1981)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Gas Knuckles

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The second in George Miller's Mad Max trilogy is less melodramatic than the first and far grittier and more sustained than the third. Mel Gibson plays the title character, a leather-clad loner who travels with a dog across the Australian wastes looking for gasoline -- so that he can travel some more. He comes across a community of decent humans who promise him gas if he'll help defend them from a band of evil marauders.

Miller's tone is tough, but with a hint of black humor, and Gibson's deadpan performance falls perfectly in sync. Miller also makes remarkable use of the widescreen frame, using it to emphasize the speed, roar and dust of the many violent chase scenes (you can almost smell the gas and the exhaust). Unlike many other films from the period, it never loses momentum or gusto as it winds toward the surprising climax. Of course, Miller has just as much to say about human behavior and industrialization as he does about fast cars.

The film was released in Australia as Mad Max 2 in 1981, but American distributors changed the title for Americans who had never heard of the original film. It showed up here in the summer of 1982. Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome followed in the summer of 1985, and, then, Mad Max: Fury Road, thirty years later.

Movies Unlimtied