Mad Mad 2 (1982)
Mad Max 2, or The Road Warrior, as it is known in the US, is a milestone in the action film genre. For many this was their first exposure to Australian cinema, other than art house material from the likes of Peter Weir. It certainly put Mel Gibson on the map. It also started an entire sub-genre in its own right, branching off from the established post apocalypse formula. Drawing on the traditional western, the seventies anti-hero and the road movie, Mad Max 2 creates interesting (and at times camp) characters and has some of the best action sequences committed to film. Despite being 35 years old, it has recently been given a new lease of life through its Blu-ray release.
The Blu-ray disc features the original uncut Australian version of the film, as director George Miller intended. The opening narration and montage provide all the relevant back story required to bring new viewers up to speed. In fact, Mad Max 2 can easily be viewed as a standalone film. The plot is straight forward, the dialogue minimalist and the characters larger than life. The costume and production design our somewhat outrageous. Yet it works perfectly and starts at a terrific pace and never lets up during its ninety six minute running time. Performances are good. Gibson excels as the titular character. Established Australian actors such as Bruce Spence and Mike Preston provide sterling support. Composer Brain May (no, not that one) provides a fine score.
However it is the action scenes and car stunts that stand out the most. They seem even better today, by virtue of the fact that they are all genuine. Watch Mad Max 2 and then compare it to a recent release such as Death Race. The influences of the former on the latter are obvious. The violence and bleak ending also reflect the underlying sentiments of the time. The lack of any major studio involvement allowed producer and directer George Miller to remain true to his creativity. Unfortunately, this was not the case of the woeful sequel, which we shall not discuss here. Mad Max 2 remains an outstanding and iconic film, although a second viewing highlights the obvious influences of the times that spawned it. It’s curious how such a raw, visceral and dynamic film could be created by the director of Happy Feet and Babe.