- Movie Rating -

The Road Warrior (1982)

| July 30, 1982

It’s funny how these things happen.  Just two days after seeing Hal Needham’s half-assed futuristic motorcycle movie MegaForce, I arrived at The Road Warrior.  If the earlier film was a hapless void with action fit for a TV commercial, then George Miller’s film is a work of pure action that puts most every other action film that I’ve seen lately to shame.

The movie is a sequel to Mad Max, a movie that a lot of people enjoyed more than I did.  But this one cranks up the energy into a series of roadway chases between cars, trucks and motorcycles that should make for a gigantic visual mess (I’ve seen too many of Needham’s pictures) but instead are an orchestration of editing, of sound and of motion that keep you informed as to what’s going on.  There’s an orientation to the action so we know at all times what is happening.

The story takes in post-World War III in Australia where civilization has disintegrated and what remains are roving gangs of violent punks who chase down and murder one another for the one remaining commodity left on Earth, gasoline.  That’s a very curious idea since much of the movie involves people driving trucks around trying to kill each other for a tank of gas while burning up gasoline!  I guess I’m not suppose to bring logic to this.

Praise for Miller’s work goes to these stunts, but the real trick is making us care about a group of heroes whose traits are laid on them like dew but still having us care about their fate.  He creates a world in which passion and desire have all but washed away and the only thing left for the human race is basic survival.  Humanity has withered down to a primitive tribal savagery.  Many of the characters in this movie have adopted a look that includes remnants of whatever clothing is left, much of it looking like leftovers from a demolition derby or a pro-wrestling event.  It’s the latest in punk rock wear, with leather jackets, shoulder pads and boots.  Their cars are souped up and some are fitted with steel pipes and shutters, the purpose of which is to impale another car, smash it to bits or run it off the road.

All of this stuff has been thought out in an effort to create a world beyond good common understanding.  Why spend so much time and energy fitting yourself and your car with all of this souped-up nonsense?  Where did society’s codes of conduct decline to the point that a mohawk and plastic shoulder pads became a fashion statement?  I guess it hardly matters.  The point is the stunt work here.  Miller creates a frightening world that is constantly in motion, always violent and always combative.  In other hands this would be a problem but he creates action that is kinetic and fun in a sick sort of way.  I’m not sure what the movie has to say about humanity.  Is he saying that this is where we are headed?  Is it an environmental message?  I’m not sure but I can say that he gets the job done.  This is an exhausting experience, a good one that wore me out.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1982) View IMDB Filed in: Action