This is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative
It’s no secret that I thought the first Mad Max was dreadfully awful. Well, unfortunately this one isn’t much of a step up. It’s still a film that is pointlessly bleak at all times with no corner of hope for any of the characters. You can survive in this future as best you can but you certainly can’t thrive here. The instant a dog showed up as one of the main characters I knew the film was doomed. It’s all downhill right from when the film starts so at least this isn’t a surprise. I will say that the poster is really good though, feels like a completely different movie!
The movie starts with a big flashback/narration explaining what happened in the first film. Considering that not a lot happened I think they could have sped this up but the film is really big on being as dramatic as possible. The opening and ending narrations are both very long and do well to lower your expectations. From there we see Max who is minding his own business with his beat up car when he’s attacked. He fends these guys off but then finds himself in the middle of a skirmish between two gangs.
One is a violent group that goes around terrorizing everyone. They’re all intent on causing as much terror and destruction as possible with no real goal beyond that. Their objective right now is to steal the fuel from the other group though so they can go back to committing mindless destruction against everyone else. The group on the defense seem nice enough but their group is split on fighting back or running off. Both options will lead to their ultimate destruction so they aren’t keen on either plan. Ma will end up being the deciding factor here. They manage to get his car and also have all of the fuel so if Max wants to go anywhere he will have to barter with them. Nobody can trust anybody around here so we’ll see how that goes.
It’s easy to see how so many people became crooks here though because there is absolutely nothing to do in this world. The entire planet is covered in sand and dust. It’s got to be one of the most depressing futures imaginable. Not only is there no sense of government or humanity so you’re surrounded by thugs everywhere you go, but there don’t even seem to be human essentials like stores and such. You’re stuck scavenging for your own things for the rest of your life which is as bleak as it gets. Seriously, it’s hard to have any fun in this place.
Max isn’t intending on having any fun though as he is still depressed from the events of the first film. I can’t say I blame him because the world has only gone south since then. At least in the first film it felt like there was still a civilization. Maybe it’s just the area that the second film takes place in but any civilization appears to be long gone at this point. There isn’t much to say about Max because he doesn’t say much and barely has any real character. He’s certainly not awful but he’s not that good either. The kind of character you forget even exists really.
None of the villains are any good. You’ve got Humungus as the leader of the group and the best thing I can say about the guy is that he is very strong. Nobody’s going to mess with him, that’s for sure and he chokes out the one villain who started to get out of line. Other than that, he’s just another thug trying to make a name for himself. Wez is much worse as the guy is one of those crazy types who only barely manages to get through his missions without going overboard.
The villains were just bad here because they had no real personality. The leader is the strong guy and Wez is the crazy guy. That’s the extent of their character here and I never got very interested in what was going to happen to them. This just isn’t that kind of film and that’s a shame. To make a good villain you’ve got to give them a solid goal or just make them generally charismatic. Some fun dialogue and a few good lines would have gone a really long way here.
As for the other group, well you have two main members. There’s Papagallo who could have been an action hero in a different movie. In this one the guy is still in the leadership role and makes the tough calls but he’s not all that likable. I’ll give him some points for being one of the most developed characters in the movie though, maybe even the most. You can at least see that he has some rationale behind his decisions and he certainly earned the unofficial title as leader. When the group needs a decision, then he comes through.
Then there’s the kid who can’t talk yet and acts like a wild animal. Well, he’s certainly savage enough and lands a lot of good blows so that’s impressive. His skills with a boomerang can’t be denied. Not really my kind of character but he proves helpful which is important. Then you have the gyro captain (I don’t think he ever got a name and this is what Wikipedia refers to him as so I’ll take their lead here) who goes from being Max’s fugitive for a while to actually helping out in the end. He definitely came in handy since aerial mobility is huge in a fight like this. In a car battle one wrong bump can take you out but in the air it’s hard to counter.
So those are the characters but I was less than impressed with them. As mentioned earlier, there is some animal violence here which really doomed the flick. You should not have a dog die in your film…ever. It’s just never going to end up being a good move and ends up backfiring horribly! Definitely a regrettable move. I mean, the film was going to get a low score regardless because I didn’t really like anything about it, but this ensured that it fell almost all the way down.
At the end of the day, the deck was really stacked against the film. I don’t care for the desert environment as it is. Then you’ve got a futuristic world with absolutely no high tech concepts which is missing the point of a future based film in the first place. I would also make the case that the film barely has a plot. Yes, we have to protect the fuel and Max just wants to get out of there but that’s a 20 minute plot, not a whole film’s worth.
Overall, I would give this film a hard thumbs down. Max Max is really not a film I would recommend. Even the newer films tend to not look very interesting but maybe it will eventually break out. The issue is that I feel the series would need a complete revamp in order to be good and that’s not likely happening anytime soon. If anything I’m sure that would be extremely controversial.