Mad Max 2

Year: 1981
Production Co: Kennedy Miller Productions
Director: George Miller
Producer: Byron Kennedy
Writer: George Miller/Terry Hayes
Cast: Mel Gibson, Vernon Wells, Kjell Nilsson, Arkie Whiteley, Bruce Spence, Emil Minty, Max Phipps, Mike Preston
The franchise moved to a far more America-friendly model with this first sequel, turning the road warrior into a sci-fi hero from across the galaxy, the marauding bikie gangs almost into aliens ravaging a desert planet.

With his leathers, dog and sawn-off, Max now looks less like a cop and more like a fighter pilot, all traces of humanity and his lost family washed away in the collapse of society. Now he's nothing more than a one of a thousand tough guys roaming the outback in the constant search for fuel like dinosaurs endlessly looking for food.

Max comes across a small desert community under siege by bandits led by the terrifying Humnungus (Nilsson), who are hoping to steal their stocks of fuel. Max agrees to help the villagers escape, setting the stage for one of the coolest chase movies ever committed to film, part Cannonball-like car chase, part sci-fi spaceship battle.

The characters are brighter, more iconic and more marketable, from Wes (Wells) and the Humungus to the gyro Captain (Spence) and Papagallo.

Maybe it's the grab-bag of Australian stars, but something keeps it uniquely Australian, a quality that extended less into the second sequel but was still there despite an even more US-centric sales pitch. Dispassionate, violent and action-packed, it's an example of what we can turn out in this country given an eye for the audience instead.

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