I know that this is a classic, and that it has (or had?) a large cult
following, but the movie itself is just not very good, the acting is pretty bad,
and many times it is difficult to see what is going on. However,
incredibly, they manage to tell a decent story, making this movie much more than
the sum of its parts.
I was ready to turn the movie off after the first five
minutes. The acting was so poor, and the texture, coming from the old
print, I'm sure, was almost unwatchable. The dialog was almost nonexistent
through the whole movie, which repeatedly amazed me. I don't think there
was more than a single page of coherent dialog! I kept with the movie,
however, and was rewarded by the action, which is pretty impressive.
The beginning narration brings us up to speed on the nuclear war and collapse
of civilization decades earlier. It also summarizes the first Mad Max
movie, I believe, where Max loses his family to the gasoline bandits. I
saw that movie once, and am not really interested in seeing it again. I
don't remember a single thing about it! The third installment, Mad Max
Beyond Thunderdome I remember to be quite good, but also very sappy. This
installment, the second in a trilogy, has what is probably the unique honor of
being the best in a series.
And it's not even that good. But still, it grew on me, and the action
sequence at the end was almost fantastic -rugged, and completely believable.
Max, like everybody else in this land, takes care of himself. He steals
gas wherever he can, he doesn't help when a man is shot nearby, nor when the
woman is raped and killed as well. But when the bandits take off, he goes
to get the gas left over.
But it turns out that the man is still alive, and so he offers even more gas in return
for bringing him back to his small community. This is an oil refinery,
under siege by the bandits, which Max was scouting out after another trade with
the gyro captain. He is taken by the community, stripped of anything
valuable, including his car, and almost tossed out, when the bandits attack
Listening to their options: trust the leader of the bandits to let them walk
away free or stand and fight to the death, Max offers them another: he passed a
truck rig not long ago, which could haul their oil tanker to safety. They
give him some gas, letting him go fetch the truck by foot! That must have
been a long walk!
Fortunately, he had tied the gyro captain nearby, and once they arrive at the
gyro, they get to the rig fairly quickly. The chase to get inside the
compound was once again really heart-pounding, and I wondered if he was going to
have any tires left when he reached safety. Several more people from the
community were killed as a few bandits also manage to get inside the compound.
Max doesn't want to help them after this. He wants his car back, with
plenty of gas, and he takes off. But the bandits are waiting, and he
doesn't get very far before they overtake him and wreck his car, which was quite
a surprise to me. When
harvesting the fuel form his car, however, they set off a booby-trap and the whole thing
blows. Max hid behind a rock, but is still pretty bruised up, that he can
barely walk. Strangely enough, he takes the death of his dog in stride,
never baring any emotions.
Thinking of that, he never shows any emotions through the whole movie. All he
wants to do is survive. He has hardened himself against everything and
everyone. Whether he is driving his car, trying to escape the bandits, or
fighting for his life, he shows us the same side of his personality -not
The climax takes up almost a third of the movie. After being rescued by
air, Max takes the oil rig on the road, leading the bandits on a merry chase.
One by one, his defenders fall. They are a rowdy bunch. Many of the
defenders and bandits
get killed in spectacular fashion, some of the highlights of the chase!
Several times the bandits use nitric oxide (or something like that) to boost their
speed. I wonder what all the fuss is about oil, if this stuff works
better. It's probably even more expensive, or rare...
What is so spectacular about the ending is that Max was actually driving a
decoy. The rig was full of sand! The real gas got away when the rest
of the community drove out in the other direction, abandoning the refinery and
blowing it up. Strangely enough, when Max finds out about this betrayal,
he doesn't look angry -or show any emotion whatsoever. Hmmm...
The characters were barely characters in this movie. The bad guys were
insane. The good guys made some sense. The only one besides Max who
had anything real to do was the savage child! He took Max as a role model.
He got to play with his boomerang, even killing somebody with it. He
tagged along on the race at the end, but I don't see that he actually helped.
Still, without speaking a single word, he provided some emotional attachment.
The ending seemed rather discontinuous, as if several scenes were cut.
The gyro captain, his gyro nearly destroyed, comes to pick the kid up.
Presumably, they offered Max a place in their society, as well, but he declined.
Next we see the gyro captain and the savage boy riding along in the convoy.
How did they get there? His propellers were all destroyed, so he would
have had to drive. Did the convoy stop and wait for them? That would
have been dangerous, I think. It is not really a problem, but I wonder if
we suddenly ran out of time.
I still can't believe there was so little dialog in this film. The
movie had to survive simply on mannerisms. The acting was not so great
that this was achieved. However, it is an action film, and as such, had to
have monumental chase scenes. Surprisingly, there were no gunfights.
It looked like bullets were prized even more than gas. But the chase scenes, using
crossbows and arrows, were much more spectacular than they would have been with
And so the movie was at least entertaining. The parts between the chase
scenes were still quite interesting, even if it was difficult to watch.
Laugh a lot at those scenes; it's the only way to survive through them. But
stick around for the true action, which was really cool.