what i watched last week
music friday: pete seeger

by request: the road warrior (george miller,1981)

This is another of those not-quite-a-request. A couple of people requested that I revisit some of the movies that just missed making my Facebook Fave 50 list. You can’t get any closer than The Road Warrior, which was #51.

I’m not sure what your definition of an “action movie” is. I can define it by giving examples: Run Lola Run, The Terminator, A Better Tomorrow, Supercop, Tomorrow Never Dies. Those are the five action movies I listed in my Fave Fifty, although Tomorrow Never Dies was a ringer and I don’t actually think that highly of it. At worst, that makes The Road Warrior my 6th-favorite action movie of all time. And perhaps those six movies give a feel for what I consider to be an action movie: something that is defined largely by its action scenes. I don’t think of The Godfather movies as action pictures, because while they have elements of the action picture, other things are more crucial. But a movie like The Road Warrior would be far less interesting without the way it approaches action. You can talk about Jung and Joseph Campbell, you can talk about the costumes, but what makes the film is George Miller’s skills as an action creator. The final fifteen-minute chase scene is the equal of anything in Stagecoach or Buster Keaton.

It is safe to say that not everyone shares my high opinion of The Road Warrior. Oh, it is highly regarded. But it is old. It relies on stunt work (like Stagecoach and The General do) … we’re just about to enter the CGI period, but it hasn’t happened yet. This makes it seem more remarkable to me, but younger viewers used to CGI might just find it outdated. Still, Miller’s work here is so effective, it wins people over … like I say, most people do like the movie. But if you look at the top-rated action movies on the IMDB, you have to get to #9 before the 20th century turns up. The Road Warrior comes in at #269, two places below Thor: The Dark World.

The average rating for The Road Warrior on MovieLens is 7.2/10. I give it 10/10. It is #549 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They list of the top 1000 films of all time. I have it at #51. Clearly I’m a bit excessive in my praise.

You could watch the other two films in the trilogy. Mad Max is cheap and punky, and pretty good. Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome is bloated and not so good.