Mad Max 2 (AKA The Road Warrior)
Directed by George Miller (1981)
I love all three of the Mad Max films. Every year or so I rewatch the trilogy, to remind myself how good they are.
Mad Max was released in 1979. It was a modestly-budgeted Australian thriller, starring Mel Gibson in the title role, and was so successful that it spawned the more expensive, more exciting, more violent sequel.
Mad Max 2 is a masterclass in action film-making. The physical stunts (this was made well before CGI started to ruin our films) are breathtaking, the acting superb, the writing and direction brilliant - you might even say visionary. Mad Max 2 is one of the most influential popular movies ever made. We still see it's influence everywhere; the style of the film has become so much part of the mainstream that we no longer even notice it.
I remember when I was twelve years old, standing and gazing longingly at the poster outside the Odeon cinema in Sunderland, gutted that I was too young to go and see the film (it was an 'X' certificate). That poster, along with the monochrome film stills they also used to put up in a glass frame outside cinemas back then, formed their own myth inside my head. By the time I eventually got to see the film on VHS, I was already in love with it and what it had come to represent.
The plot of the film is as basic as they come: a lone wanderer in a post-apocalyptic wasteland tries to help an isolated community of survivors move their stash of valuable fuel to a safer place, whilst fighting off rampaging biker gangs. That's it. Simplicity itself. But the execution of this threadbare plot is astonishing. The look of the film is both gritty and poetic. The action scenes are beautifully choreographed, and, to my mind, are yet to be beaten. The opening monologue remains a classic in cinema history, and some of the images in the film have gone being the iconic to become engrained in our cinema-going consciousness.
I adore this film. It changed the way I look at the world. I still want to be Mad Max when I grow up.