Where lucid imagination meets workmanlike hand-craftmanship, you get a masterclass in indie filmmaking and low-budget world building. A work of "pure cinema"—characters are endeared to us via silent moments and still closeups, combined with Buster Keaton-informed action sequences that have us instinctually worried for the performers carrying out the stunts. My heart was thumping throughout this 90-minute fever dream.
It's not difficult to make the case for "Fury Road" as the best entry in this series, but for me "Road Warrior" will always loom the largest. George Miller infuses his drive-in movie premise with a Leone-esque sense of minimalism and widescreen scope. His DIY gumption and technical innovation form a perfect marriage onscreen, and Mel? What can I say about Mel Gibson in this film - his performance remains iconic.
Better stunts, better pace and faster editing. The universe gets expanded and Mad Max looks even more grittier and downbeat than ever before. The car stunts are more detailed and gruesome and the violence wildly over-the-top with villains seemingly stolen from a Berlin love parade festival.
Miller did the opposite of a traditional sequel: narrowed and distilled instead of expanding. The ambiguous, amoral world unexplained. The stoic, silent anti-hero. It works. Overshadowing the original, he finds here the balance between his UNIQUE talent for prop & visual based character storytelling and paced, worthful action that make Road Warrior a fine, iconic western on wheels.