Review: Mad Max 2 (1981)

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We return to the world of blatant homoeroticism!

Written By: Brian Hannant, Terry Hayes & George Miller
Directed By: George Miller

There was something in Mad Max that I didn’t touch on in my review, and that was the blatant homoerotic nature of the film. With Mad Max 2 the homoeroticism has been amped up even more. If you doubt that, then I point you to Wez. Here’s a guy who dresses like he’s in an S&M video and rides on a hog with a blond submissive just begging to be punished. It’s very weird, yet at the same time refreshing, to see a movie that is based on testosterone featuring blatantly homosexual characters in powerful roles where their sexuality is never even brought to bare because it doesn’t matter in the slightest. Mad Max 2 is less conventional in other ways, there are a few instances where you are led to believe that a love interest is being introduced. But, any person can and will die, and therefore this is a movie that has no time for love or for any love stories to be carried out, let alone actually paid off.

For as much as I may have liked the above aspects, Mad Max 2 is at the end of the day all about the action car scenes. They are just as good here as they were in Mad Max, but now they are larger and carry even more import. The world of Mad Max 2 is one of a constant struggle to survive, and the ultimate struggle takes place in the final big rig chase. It is a long and yet tautly filmed chase scene full of oodles of drama and tension with a satisfying pay off.

The violence in Mad Max was implied, that is not the case in Mad Max 2, the violence in Mad Max 2 is front and center. But, it’s not something we can relate to, just take the long scope scene from early on. We see the violence from a distance and through a long lens, this creates a sense of detachment. We see the violence, but we don’t really understand it or want to understand it. This carries through for the rest of the film, at no point did I feel like I understood the violence or like I should be happy for any violent acts taking place.

My biggest gripe with Mad Max was that the world we were being shown was interesting, but we weren’t shown enough of it. I never got the sense that there was more to the world beyond what we were seeing. In Mad Max 2 we see a full world, one that has pockets of people struggling to survive and bandits seeking to take advantage of them. This isn’t a skeleton world like the one in Mad Max, the world of Mad Max 2 is fully realized and offers a breadth of scope that wasn’t seen in the first one.

The problem in Mad Max 2 wasn’t with the story or its themes, the idea of Max needing others even if he doesn’t realize it was well presented, but rather what holds the film back are some of the small character moments. Whenever they try to focus intensely on a single character or a couple of characters and show some sort of growth or give them a moment to show who they are the film feels choreographed and stops flowing naturally.

Mad Max 2 is a step up from Mad Max while retaining the same feel and sense of starkness. It’s a great thrill ride of a film with some interesting things to say about typical movie contrivances. Even if you don’t care about the story or the atmosphere of Mad Max 2, it is a great action movie with one of the best car chases ever put to screen. If you enjoyed Mad Max then you should love Mad Max 2, just avoid the raging gay guy with shoulder pads, he will kill you!

Rating:

***1/2

Cheers,
Bill

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