Film: Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior

aka: The Road Warrior

My life fades. The vision dims. All that remains are memories. I remember a time of chaos. Ruined dreams. This wasted land. But most of all, I remember the Road Warrior. The man we called "Max".

The second Mad Max film, released in 1981. It was retitled The Road Warrior for the American market, and is also known as simply Mad Max 2.

The movie follows Max into the anarchic Wasteland that used to be Australia, where a few years later he is now Walking the Earth with his Post-Apocalyptic Dog in his Cool Car. He runs into a small ragtag group of survivors occupying an isolated oil refinery, who are surrounded and terrorised by a vicious gang of biker bandits led by the mysterious masked Lord Humungus. After at first resisting their pleas for him to help them, Max ends up assisting them in their plan for escape to the north, exorcising some of his own personal demons.


This film provides examples of:

  • Action Prologue: The film opens with Max being chased by the Lord Humungus' flunkies, well before we actually meet him.
  • Animal Companion: The cattle dog that accompanies in his travels across the wasteland.
  • The Bait:
    • The big rig tanker Max drives out of the compound turns out to be full of sand. The fuel is actually being hauled in 44 gallon drums in the bus, which escapes along with the rest of the civilians while the Vermin are busy chasing after Max.
    • The Gyro Captain uses his aircraft to lure Max.
  • Barbarian Longhair: Many of the bad guys have grungy hair-metal mullets.
  • The Berserker: Wez. He wants to charge into the refinery after his boyfriend is killed and has to be calmed down by Humungus.
  • Big Bad: Lord Humungus, who is besieging the oil refinery.
  • Big Badass Rig: The tanker truck that Max drives in the climax.
  • Bloody Hilarious: The Vermin roar with laughter after Toadie loses his fingers trying to catch the Feral Kid's metal boomerang.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Averted. Ammunition is shown to be extremely rare. Max turns out to have been bluffing with an empty shotgun when he finds ammo again which turns out to be a dud. When he has functional ammo again during the final chase sequence, it takes him time to reload the few rounds he does have. The Lord Humungus has exactly five rounds for his Magnum, only loading it sparingly; he fires one shot at the truck when Max brings it back to the refinery and uses his last four at the start of the final chase. After that, he switches to triple bladed knives. Even before the collapse of society in the first film, characters never fire more than two rounds in any one go.
  • Fingore: Don't try catching bladed boomerangs with your bare hands. The results aren't pretty.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Pappagallo inspecting the egg timer.
    • The buses.
    • The booby trap on two counts: Max's car and the refinery.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Most of the good oil rig defenders wear white and beige clothes while the villainous Lord Humungus and his men mainly wear black.
  • Cool Pet: Dog, proving that blue heelers are fierce (the dingo blood probably doesn't hurt).
  • Cooldown Hug: Humungus "hugs" his lieutenant Wez as he is about to go on a premature, suicidal killing spree.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Max keeps his car booby trapped to explode should anybody attempt to siphon fuel from the tanks. Furthermore, he keeps a knife right next to the bomb's arming switch so he can use it against anyone who does attempt to persuade him to disarm it. The Gyro Captain figures this out pretty quickly.
  • Decapitated Army: Once Max has dispatched both Wez and The Lord Humungus by running them both over with a truck, the half a dozen or so remaining members of their gang look dejectedly at the crashed truck and drive off into the sunset.
  • Decoy Getaway: At the end, Max discovers that the tanker that he thought was carrying the precious petrol was really filled with sand. The tanker drew the attention of the bandits while the other people made their getaway, carrying the fuel inside drums hidden on the buses.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Some of the villainous gang members are shown raping women, though Wez in particular had an androgynous guy riding with him who was implied to be more than just a friend, and they all were dressed in BDSM-style homoerotic clothing (cheekless pants, black leather galore, lots of chains and studs, leather facial masks, etc.).
  • Despair Event Horizon: It's heavily implied that, similar to Max, Humungus was a victim of this and chose to be bad; witness his "We have all lost someone we love" speech and the picture of himself and his wife (or, possibly his parents) that he keeps with his gun. Humungus was originally going to be Goose from the first film, having gone over to the dark side, but this was cut out of the finished script.
  • Dodge by Braking: Max does this at the beginning of the film when one of the Mooks chasing him pulls a crossbow on him. The bolt winds up in Wez's arm instead.
  • Dog Food Diet: Max lives off cans of Dinky-Di dog food. You can even see crates of it stacked in the back of his car.
  • A Dog Named Dog: Max's Australian Cattle Dog. Its name is never given, and the script just calls it dog.
  • The Dragon: Wez to Lord Humungus, though Humungus is actually tougher than Wez.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Happens as the oil rig defenders fight to the last even though the rig is a decoy filled with sand. They still ensure the rest of their community escape to safety.
  • Eat the Dog: The Gyro Captain raises snakes as a food source as well as guards for his vehicle.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: Lord Humungus' crew includes several women, though it's unclear whether they're actual members of the gang or tagalong prostitutes (or both). They're treated much better on-screen than unaffiliated female characters, anyway.
  • Foreshadowing: As the tanker becomes damaged in the climactic chase, sharp-eyed viewers might wonder why sand is pouring from the broken hose on the side.
  • Genre Shift: The first movie portrayed Australia as a crime-ridden, crapsack world, and Max is a Cowboy Cop. The Road Warrior is post-apocalyptic, and Max is more like a traveling ronin or gunslinger.
  • Handicapped Badass: The mechanic has no legs.
    • Max wears a leg brace.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Max thought he really was driving a full fuel truck and had no intention of being a decoy.
    • Papagallo would be a more straight example, since he knew the truth from the start and he was going to drive the truck anyway before Max came along. Also the rest of the truck defenders if they were in on the secret.
  • Hidden Depths: The Gyro Captain. He apparently has enough to become the leader of The Great Northern Tribe.
  • Homoerotic Subtext:
    • Wez wears assless chaps and drives around with his twink boyfriend clinging to his back. When his boy-toy gets killed, Wez goes berserk, and Humungus has to put him in a very intimate looking sleeper hold while whispering into his ear.
    • One group of guys under the Humungus's command is known as "Smegma Crazies," and another as "Gayboy Berserkers."
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • The Gyro Captain upon learning that Max has been bluffing him with an unloaded shotgun: "Empty, all this time! That's dishonest! Low."
    • Toadie knocks out the captive strapped to the front of Humungus' vehicle, then casts a guilty look at the compound while stroking the man's hair.
  • Impractically Fancy Outfit: Lord Humungus must have a major case of sunburn.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills:
    • The mook shooting down the Gyrocopter with arrows would be nigh-impossible to pull off in real life.
    • Wez shoots a running rabbit with his arm crossbow.
    Toadie: You see! Nothing can escape! The Humungus rules the wastelands!
  • Improbable Weapon User: The Gyro Captain likes snakes - both as a booby-trap device and as a thrown weapon.
  • Leatherman: Wez, Humungus' Dragon.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: Lord Humungus and many of his gang who wear police helmets and other assorted masks.
  • Molotov Cocktail: The Mechanic throws molotovs from the truck until he is hit and drops one onto himself. He's not too fussed about being on fire though.
  • Narrator All Along: The Nostalgic Narrator of The Road Warrior turns out to be an elderly, dying Feral Child, now leader of the Great Northern Tribe.
  • No New Fashions in the Future: It's subtle, but the nameless heroic warrior woman can be clearly seen to have crimped hair in a few shots. The villains' technicolor mohawks and some of their leather gear are also pretty solidly confined to 80s punk culture.
  • Not So Different: Pappagallo plays it straight then turns it into "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
    Pappagallo: What is it with you, huh? What are you looking for? C'mon, Max, everybody's looking for something. You're happy out there, are you? Eh? Wandering? One day blurring into another? You're a scavenger, Max. You're a maggot. Did you know that? You're living off the corpse of the old world. Tell me your story, Max. C'mon. Tell me your story. What burned you out, huh? Kill one man too many? See too many people die? Lose some family?
    (Max briefly gives Pappagallo a Death Glare)
    Pappagallo: Oh, so that's it, you lost your family? That makes you something special, does it? Do you think you're the only one that's suffered? We've all been through it in here. But we haven't given up. We're still human beings, with dignity. But you? You're out there with the garbage. You're nothing.
  • Oh Crap!:
    • Wez wears a wide-eyed, fierce, almost haka face in practically every scene, but still manages to bug out his eyes even more when he is about to get crushed between Max's tanker and Humungus' speedcar.
    • A Black Comedy moment when the Gyro Pilot has a shotgun wired up in his face with Max's dog holding a cord to the trigger in its mouth. At one point the dog turns its head at the sight of a rabbit running past...Gulp!
    • The Vermin pursue Max right into the compound, but they manage to close the gate after only a couple of vehicles have gone through. The driver of the third vehicle finds himself looking down the muzzle of the gate flamethrower.
    • After opening the gas tank of Max's wrecked Interceptor, the Toadie notices too late the lit fuse of the booby trap...
  • One Hit Poly Kill: The first shot Max fires during the climax takes out the driver of one car, which takes out another vehicle.
  • Peekaboo Corpse: Subverted as Max doesn't even blink when the crashed semi's long-dead driver falls out of the cab.
  • Pet the Dog: Max's attitude towards everyone is selfish and callous; the first crack in his Jerkass Fašade is him clutching his dog protectively after it attacks the disabled mechanic and it looks like the others might harm it. His next moment is when he gives a wind-up music box to the Feral Kid.
  • Pop the Tires: Wez shoots his wrist-mounted crossbow at the tires of the Mack truck supposedly carrying the precious fuel. Since it's such a huge and powerful vehicle, it doesn't accomplish much, and the truck keeps on going despite the flattened tires.
    • It helps that no one ever tried shooting at the steering axle, the only one that didn't have dual-wheels.
  • Post-Apocalyptic Dog: An especially iconic one!
  • The Promised Land: Tthe villagers are trying to locate their own promised land.
  • Rasputinian Death: Wez takes impressive amounts of damage before finally collapsing.
  • Running the Blockade: Max tries to drive through the siege/blockade around the oil refinery but is intercepted and almost killed. At the end of the movie he tries again, driving the fuel tanker.
  • Still Wearing the Old Colors: Max's tattered MFP uniform aside, one of the occupants of the refinery is an old gent still wearing his army uniform.
  • Stock Footage: Used for the opening narration.
  • Super Reflexes: Max is able to disable snakes with a single grab.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: In video releases, the packaging revealed that the fuel was in the bus, not the tanker.
  • Vasquez Always Dies: The Action Girl who takes on the task of guarding the oil tanker from above gets killed, while the Gyro Captain's more feminine Love Interest rides in the bus, which is not so much of a target.
  • Wasteland Elder: Papagallo is a somewhat younger version of this trope. He leads the refinery settlers to The Promised Land, even if he doesn't survive to see it happen. The Feral Kid eventually becomes this trope in the ending narration.
  • Weapon for Intimidation: Max's shotgun for most of the movie. He uses it to bluff Wez into retreating at the start of the movie and rigs it up to keep the Gyro Captain captured. It's only when he searches some of the bodies by the autogyro and finds a single shotgun shell that we discover that the gun has been empty all along.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Bear Claw is the mook pinning Max from behind by holding to Max's shoulder during the film's final chase scene. When Max's truck crashes against Humungus's car, the truck flips as it falls by the roadside. Max and the Kid come out of the truck cabin alive, yet no clear explanation of Bear Claw's final fate is offered.
  • Wild Child: The "Feral Kid".
  • You! Exclamation: "YOU! You can run, but you can't hide!"

Alternative Title(s):

The Road Warrior, Mad Max 2