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The Road Warrior

Mad Max 2: The Road Warriors

What He said:

He

Of all of the Mad Max movies, this is the one I have seen the most and the only one I’ve seen from start-to-finish. If I remember correctly, I first saw it when my brother-in-law showed it to me on VHS. I caught it on TV a few times over the years, but haven’t seen it in its entirety in years. I remembered certain parts of the movie, but actually forgot most of it in recent years. I don’t think I’ve seen this movie all the way through since I was a teenager, so I was looking forward to revisiting it.

If you haven’t seen the first Mad Max, prepare for some spoilers. Max’s wife and kid are killed by the villain of the previous movie. Max stops being a cop and becomes a vengeful husband and father. After he gets his revenge, he drives off into the sunset to start a new life as a loner.

In the time between this movie and the first one, society has completely fallen apart. There are no more police officers. There is no more government. The world – or at least the part of the world these people are in – is now referred to as the Wasteland and the gangs are the ones calling the shots. Society has de-evolved to a more primitive time where it is kill or be killed. And people seem to have legitimately taken a step (or 10) backwards too. Not only are they more violent, they are just plain weird. They are sadists, masochists, and are generally bizarre people. Without rules and structure, people seem to have “lost it”.

The Road Warrior

The gang calling the shots in this part of the world is run by a guy who calls himself The Lord Humongous. How awesome is that by the way? If that doesn’t tip you off as to what kind of characters we’re dealing with here, I don’t know what will. Well anyway, The Humongous (Kjell Nilsson) looks like a professional wrestler from the 1980s crossed with something from an S&M themed nightmare. He’s also the kind of guy who keeps his friends on a leash. I don’t know about you, but I find villains who are both violent and have some freaky deaky sexual stuff going on, as scary as it gets. There’s something extra creepy about that. He’s also got his own personal emissary who introduces him. Who does that in a post-apocalyptic world? You have to love that level of insanity in a villain.

The Road Warrior

Well anyway, these gangs of violent sociopaths are after this other group of people. This other group is much more normal. They are still pretty normal people, considering the apocalypse and all. There are families and children in this group and while they are willing to fight for survival, they are not cold blooded killers. Leading the way for this group is a guy named Pappagallo (Michael Preston). He’s the leader of the group, but they are much more of a democracy than Humungus’ crew. They also have something very special. They have found a natural source of oil and have been harvesting it. They have built their homes around it too. The  Humungus knows this and wants to take the oil from them.

In a world where resources are rare, things can get rather ugly when two groups are after the same thing.  Humungus (still love that name) and his men are constantly attacking the other group’s compound. There have been minor skirmishes – and some people have actually died – but Humungus offers to let the rest of them live if they leave their homes and the gasoline they’ve been making behind. They of course don’t want to, because gasoline is practically nonexistent in this world.

The Road Warrior

They have to make a choice. Are they going to stay and fight or are they going to leave? A little bit of both actually. They will not give up the gasoline, but also realize that they cannot defeat Humungus and his gang of sociopaths. They are heavily outnumbered and frankly Humungus’ men could kick their asses anyway. They are much more hardened and violent than Pappagallo’s group.

This is where Max comes in. He agrees to help them transport the gas to another location if they agree to give him some. He knows the location of a vehicle that can transport the gas, but it’s out in the Wasteland. And so the chase begins.

As much as the original defined our view of a post-apocalyptic world, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior blew it out of the water. Things that were hinted at or only shown in glimpses came to full realization in this movie. Society was just starting to fall apart in the first movie. In this one, it had completely gone to hell. It is truly survival of the fittest.

And the bad guys, my God! They run around wreaking havoc on anyone who stands in their way, which is scary enough, but when you look at the way they dress it adds a whole new layer of disturbing to the equation. Why is Humungus dressed like that? Why does his number one guy, Wez, find it necessary to wear ass-less chaps? The guy (played by Vernon Wells) is scary enough as it is, but when you are talking about an individual where – in his mind – sex  and violence become one in the same, that’s some freaky shit. He’s also got his own personal slave. These people are not of sound mind. They act like animals, doing whatever they want whenever they want, without any fear of repercussions. A world where this kind of person is the majority is terrifying. They make a hell of a one-two punch as fair as movie villains go. They are intimidating as hell.

Gibson’s portrayal as Max – who is a completely changed man since the end of the first movie – is also pretty damn good. Max went from a good cop to a guy who doesn’t care about anybody but himself. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not a cold-blooded killer like Humungous and his gang, but he only acts when it benefits him. He’s only helping Pappagallo and his group because they agreed to give him gasoline. Before that, he wants nothing to do with the conflict between the two groups. He’s the definition of an antihero.

The Road Warrior

This movie also has some great supporting characters too. Wez is such a great #2 to Humungus, that he arguably is the more popular character. There’s also The Toadie, who serves no other purpose than to announce The Humungus’ greatness to all those who stand in his way. Even his own gang doesn’t respect him, but they leave him alone because The Humungus likes having his own personal crier. The Feral Kid (Emil Minty) – Max’s sidekick – is pretty damn amusing too. He is literally this wild kid who was taken in by Pappagallo’s group. He isn’t related to any of them and seems to have been raised in the wild.  He communicates through grunts and seems to be lacking some brain cells. He sort of does whatever he wants, as you can see, and sometimes gets the group into trouble. Then there’s the Gyro Captain (Bruce Spence) who like Max is an outsider, but also falls in with Pappagallo’s group. He’s kooky and kind of a wimp, but willing to help, which is more than can be said about Max.

There’s some great action too. The wasteland is pure chaos and the movie portrays that very well. People don’t get into scuffles or fights in this world, the kill one another. It’s the way of the wasteland. So forget about a fair fight. If somebody can use a crossbow, knife, gun, or even a car to take care of their adversary, they don’t hesitate. These aren’t your typical action movies where the good guy beats up on everyone he faces and has one final showdown with the main bad guy. People play dirty in this world.

This is generally thought to be the best of the series and – even though I haven’t seen the third one yet – I have to agree. This one is just off-the-wall crazy. The fact that the world has crumbled, the intensity of the bad guys, everything in this movie is just turned up a notch from the last one; and unlike a lot of modern sequels it actually works.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on January 19, 2014.

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