Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior Screen 8 articles

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior

1981

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior Poster
  • It begins very well, with the voice over and the fake black and white archive from after the end of the world. But Mad Max 2 ends up rather flat, at the end of a pursuit where monotony takes over even pyrotechnics. In fact, the film begins where the documentary finishes and finishes where the myth should start over. It only exists for a short moment, between the trauma of the past and the utopia of the future.

  • The style is more spectacular and comic-bookish than that of the original, which isn't all to the good: without the crude but functional motivations of the first film, the violence here comes to seem somewhat arbitrary and distasteful. But for pure rhythm and visual panache, Miller has few real competitors; the climactic chase, with its deft variation of tempo and point of view, is a minor masterpiece.

  • As a work of pure film craft, The Road Warrior is, indeed, the best in the series—a poetic action sonata of cars and leather that's rich in beautifully composed wide shots that are designed to tickle the eye... But the film is disappointingly conventional in spirit. Unlike Mad Max, its kinkiness is superficial, and Miller is overly preoccupied with offering Max up as a mythic hero right out of Joseph Campbell, despite the scant evidence on display to support that assertion.

  • This series has always suffered from a villain problem, and Lord Humungus is easily the least intimidating of the bunch—he looks like he wandered over from a nearby Ren Faire. A huge improvement on the original in every other respect, however, even if there's a lot less automotive mayhem than I remembered from my one previous viewing around (ulp) 25 years ago.

  • Exhilarating entertainment -- and a textbook for sophisticated, popular moviemaking.

  • ++

    The Globe and Mail: Jay Scott
    July 12, 1985 | Great Scott! (pp. 198-202)

    ...Variations on the melody might be possible, but the ideology mandating the melody itself... vitiated against the introduction of any new songs. Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch took the Western as far as it could go – in the end, it literally blew its heroes apart – and in The Road Warrior, Max was taken as far as he could go – in the end, he literally blew his villains apart, and he was left alone, a stranger and afraid, in a world he mostly made.

  • Perhaps too much emphasis has been placed, over the years, on the supposedly timeless and universal mythic aspect of Mad Max 2, with particular reference to Miller’s own favourite citation, Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With a Thousand Faces. A truer view would be that the enduring greatness and fascination of Mad Max 2derives from the fact that it is not pure but impure myth-making, performed at a dizzy height of cinematic inventiveness.

  • The Road Warrior is a relentless action opera – with movement, emotion, and music building and building to crashing crescendos of violence and catharsis, with little time for the niceties of plot (which would be a problem -- if the film had much of a plot).

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