Saturday, April 27, 2013

#985. The Road Warrior (1981)

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 to kill or be killed, The Road Warrior, the second entry in the Mad Max series, distinguishes itself from its predecessor by favoring excitement over story, action over character development. And, oh, what a thrilling, intense ride it is!

The Road Warrior opens with our hero, Max, speeding along the highway in his interceptor, scouring the land for the only resource that matters anymore: gasoline. After a run-in with a ruthless gang of marauders, Max meets up with the Gyro Captain (Bruce Spence), who tells him about a nearby refinery that’s still churning out fuel. Unfortunately, this facility is under constant attack from the same gang that chased Max earlier. Led by a masked behemoth known as The Humongous (Kjell Nilsson), these bandits have been trying for days to breach the wall surrounding the plant, so that they can get their hands on its precious fuel. After rescuing one of their workers, who was ambushed by Humongous’ men and left for dead, Max is permitted inside the facility, which he discovers is being run by a small community 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? This is where Max comes in; in exchange for all the gasoline he can carry, Max agrees to help them escape, which, as he soon figures out, 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, or, for that matter, the Gyro Captain, who spends a good portion of the film at Max's side). This simply isn’t that kind of movie. What The Road Warrior does do (and very well, I might add) is get our pulses racing and hearts pounding with some balls-out action scenes. Along with the opening sequence, where Max is chased by some of The Humongous’ men, The Road Warrior wows us with many exhilarating moments, chief among them the grand finale, which sees Max barreling down the road in a big rig, attempting to outrun a dozen or so vehicles.

A non-stop thrill ride of a motion picture, The Road Warrior rarely slows down long enough for you to catch your breath.

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