When writer and director George Miller returned to the apocalyptic world of Max Rockatansky with 1982’s The Road Warrior, he came back with a vengeance. Compared to the microbudgeted Australian car cataclysm of the 1979 original, The Road Warrior is an apocalyptic epic that somehow feels simultaneously massive and microscopic. And while both the original and the sequel share a frantic, raw sensibility, Miller injects The Road Warrior with a dizzying array of themes that propel it to the next level.
It’s this strange blend of post-apocalyptic survival, Western frontier gunslinging, and fairy tale adventure that make The Road Warrior into something that could never quite be copied by its myriad imitators. And while that may seem like an odd mix of genres, Miller wisely filters it through a hardened and chaotic world where seemingly anything can happen.
Here, Miller catches up with former cop Max (Mel Gibson), who has abandoned humanity after the death of his wife and young boy at the hands of the villainous Toecutter and Max’s subsequent rampage of revenge. But unlike the broken civilization of the original, the world of The Road Warrior is a wasteland. Barren outback stretches as far as the eye can see. Pockets of humanity are divided into survivors, gangs, and lone scavengers. Fuel is the most precious and scarce commodity, with retrofitted vehicles now the dominant means of survival and war. And within this wasteland is an oil refinery controlled by a band of survivors who are besieged by a brutal roving gang led by the massive Lord Humongous.