Saturday, April 27, 2013

#985. The Road Warrior (1981) - Spotlight on Australia

Directed By: George Miller

Starring: Mel Gibson, Bruce Spence, Michael Preston, Max Phipps

Tag line: "In the future, cities will become deserts, roads will become battlefields and the hope of mankind will appear as a stranger"

Trivia: The dog used in the film was obtained from a local dog pound, and was adopted by one of the camera operators when filming completed

Set in a desolate wasteland where the only rule is kill or be killed, The Road Warrior -  the second entry in the Mad Max series - distinguishes itself from its predecessor by favoring action over character development. 

And, oh, what a thrilling ride it is!

The Road Warrior opens with our hero, Max (Mel Gibson), speeding along the highway in his interceptor, scouring the land for the only resource that matters: gasoline. 

After a run-in with a ruthless gang of marauders, Max crosses paths with the Gyro Captain (Bruce Spence), who tells him about a nearby refinery that is still churning out fuel. Unfortunately, this facility is under constant attack, besieged day and night by the very gang that Max encountered earlier. 

Led by a masked behemoth known as The Humongous (Kjell Nilsson), these bandits have been trying in vain to get their hands on the precious fuel, but have yet to breach the wall surrounding the plant. 

After rescuing one of their workers (who was ambushed by Humongous’ men and left for dead), Max is permitted inside the facility, which is run by a small group of desperate men and women, all of whom want to leave their "jobs" behind and start a new life. The question, of course, is how will they get past The Humongous and his collection of brigands? 

Fortunately, Max has a plan; in exchange for all the gasoline he can carry, Max agrees to help them escape by way of an abandoned truck he stumbled upon earlier, one big enough to carry all the fuel they'll need for their long journey. 

Of course, with The Humongous lurking nearby, pulling off this daring scheme is easier said than done.

The Road Warrior doesn’t spend a lot of time building up its various supporting characters, or filling us in on their back story; we never learn much about those inside the refinery, not even the Feral Boy, played by Emil Minty, who quickly befriends Max. It simply isn’t that kind of movie. 

What The Road Warrior does do (and very well, I might add) is get our hearts pounding with a collection of balls-out action scenes. Along with the opening sequence, where Max is pursued by some of The Humongous’ men, The Road Warrior wows us with a plethora of exhilarating moments, chief among them the finale, which sees Max barreling down the road in a big rig, attempting to outrun a dozen or so vehicles. 

Produced in the days before CGI, The Road Warrior relied on real cars, real crashes, and real excitement to tell its tale of a post-apocalyptic wasteland, and you will marvel at what director George Miller and his team managed to pull off.  

The ultimate thrill ride, The Road Warrior rarely slows down long enough to let you catch your breath, and I loved every pulse-pounding second of it!

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