By John Smith
I feel a sense of joy when I hear that a filmmaker who was not born into the industry was able to churn out one of the most influential films of the past 50 years. This man is George Miller who, after a successful career as a doctor, created the Mad Max trilogy. While the trilogy isn’t exactly perfect, it’s pretty safe to say that Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior is one of the closest things to action movie perfection that you can find. It also produced some of the most iconic villains to grace the genre of science fiction.
After the tragic events of the first Mad Max, former police officer Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) is traveling the wastelands of a dystopian Australian outback. With oil being as scarce as it is, Max feels like he’s struck gold when he stumbles upon an oil refinery, but is soon pulled into a war between the refinery and a gang of leather-clad gangsters who are willing to kill everyone for their oil. In return for as much oil as he can carry, Max decides to help the survivors at the refinery transport their oil to safety. Unfortunately for Max, the gang leader, Humungus (Kjell Nilsson), is not so willing to let them all get away, resulting in one of the most fantastic chases to reach the silver screen.
The plot to The Road Warrior is exciting, often funny, and never difficult. While being very influential in his own right, Miller also saw a lot of inspiration in the films of Akira Kurosawa like Seven Samurai and Yojimbo, as well as the Spaghetti Westerns of Sergio Leone. Max is the archetypal “Man With No Name” character who drifts into a certain situation and gets pulled into it against their will. Mel Gibson pulls off this archetype perfectly fine and even involved himself in a lot of the stunt work.
Over the years, The Road Warrior has become a lot more than just a really awesome movie. There have been a handful of really well known directors of our time who have cited this film as an influence and one of their favorite movies. A few examples are filmmakers James Cameron, Guillermo del Toro, and David Fincher. The influence doesn’t stop there, however, as it has also jumped media into the realm of video games. Best selling games like Borderlands and the Fallout series have taken a lot of inspiration from Mad Max 2, from their dangerous roving gangs to the dystopian wastelands.
Since its first release in 1981, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior has made its way onto many of lists of ‘Best Films Ever’ and also solidified its position as one of the best action films ever made. From its roots in samurai and western genres to the epic chase sequences and stunt work to the major influences it has had on pop culture, it would be hard to ignore this film for too long. George Miller has created a sci-fi/action masterpiece that should be seen and appreciated by all.
John Smith is a film student at Temple University with an interest in screenwriting. I do appreciate the classics and take the time to see as many as I can, but I will probably be more interested in a horror film that’s been dug out of the deepest hole in film history.
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