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The Road Warrior

Starring: Mel Gibson
Director: George Miller
Genre: Action
Year: 1981
Rating: 4 / 5

People tend to take for granted the fact that Mel Gibson is a superstar. They look at recent films like Braveheart and The Patriot, and they trace his development all the way back to Lethal Weapon in 1987. In reality, however, his birth occurred long before that, and it happened thanks to a cult film about an apocalyptic Australian wasteland. Though nothing would have been possible without Mad Max, Gibson's arrival is due primarily to The Road Warrior, a cult favorite that was so visionary that it inspires copycats to this very day. The second in a series of three films, The Road Warrior is clearly the crown jewel, and it paved the way for Gibson's future success.

Set a few years after the conclusion of the series' first entry, The Road Warrior follows Mad Max (Mel Gibson) across a still-desolate Australian outback. No longer tied to anything or anyone, Max cruises the highways, numb to the outside world. He is only concerned with finding his next meal and keeping his vehicle filled with gasoline. While driving across the barren land, Max stumbles upon the Gyro Captain (Bruce Spence), a wiry hermit who tells him of a secret oil refinery a mere twenty miles away. This refinery could give Max all the gas he needs, but one thing stands in his way: Lord Humungus and his army of bikers, thugs, and criminals.

Lord Humungus and his men have the facility surrounded, as they likewise see a seemingly endless supply of gasoline beyond its well-protected walls. The inhabitants of the facility are trapped, but they still dream of someday escaping north with their ample payload. This leaves both sides in a tense standoff, with one "innocent" observer on the outside looking in. After Max is able to help a dying man from the facility, he sees his ticket inside. While his only goal there is to retrieve the gas he needs, the facility's residents view him as their savior, the one who can lead them to their paradise up north. But can a self-proclaimed loner actually lead an entire people to freedom?

The frightening vision created by director George Miller in Mad Max is taken to the next level in The Road Warrior, as the passage of time has allowed what little remained of order to fade away. All that is left is a brutal Darwinian culture, where the strongest thrive and the weakest are simply trampled. Freed from the responsibilities of family and duty, Mel Gibson's Max is finally able to succumb to the basest human needs of self-preservation, and, with that, he becomes the reluctant anti-hero. Nearly unending action sequences, including an all-out assault on a speeding oil tanker, make this film top-notch, but make no mistake, this is George Miller's creation, not Mel Gibson's. The director's imagination allows The Road Warrior to take shape, and that is why fans still remember it twenty years later.

Cast:

Mel Gibson..........Mad Max
Bruce Spence..........Gyro Captain
Kjell Nilsson..........Lord Humungus

Certification: Rated R for violence and brief nudity.
Running Time: 94 minutes.

Additional Info: Internet Movie Database
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[critics]