When the Hot Rod Apocalypse arrives, you'd think people would have a lot to say. After all, it's the apocalypse. What isn't there to talk about? There's no fuel to be found anywhere, for starters, which definitely puts a crimp in hot rodding. Does anyone complain? Do they talk at all? Not through a majority of The Road Warrior, they don't.
No complaints from this department, either. It was refreshing to revisit my favorite film as a teen and discover that it has very little dialogue. What's there is sparse, economical, and goes directly to the point. There's no small talk in this vision of a dystopic future. Of course, the roaring engines of every manner of hot rod can really put the kibosh on conversation; you can barely hear yourself think, let alone carry on a meaningful exchange.
Our hero is still torn up over events in the first movie, which explains why he is so short in the tooth. Kind of unusual for the actor, when you think about it. Mel Gibson didn't become one of the leading actors of his generation (remember when he did Hamlet? Okay, bad example...) by keeping shtum. Audiences love him for being that gregarious, blue-faced guy you cheer for but want to keep your daughters away from. Seriously. Martin Riggs is the ideal prom date? I don't think so. He is great as Mad Max because of his restraint.
Max doesn't travel alone. He has Dog along to brighten up the desolate, atomic dust-choked roads. That is the resourceful pup's name: "Dog." Doesn't seem like they are on a first name basis, but it is a sight better as a name than "Gyro Captain." This second companion, when he is reluctantly made a member of Max's little trio, brings something hard to come by: dialogue. His gyro copter, telescope and pink low-top Converse are essentials for surviving in the wasteland.
Lord Humungus is a name you won't soon forget. The film's heavy sounds like Arnold Schwarzenegger's twin brother. Though we can't see the Humungus one's face behind his hockey mask (The Road Warrior was made years before the first Jason movie), his physique and vaguely Teutonic accent evoke California's governator. But he is no governor, he is Lord Humungus. Other honorariums include Warrior of the Wasteland and, my favorite, Ayattolah of Rock and Rollah.
The Road Warrior is the second of three Mad Max films. I'll be watching the third and report back to you from the Hot Rod Apocalypse shortly.