The Road Warrior, 1981. Directed by George Miller. Mel Gibson, Bruce Spence, Vernon Wells, Mike Preston.

Hyperkinetic sequel to Mad Max finds our hero defending a group of people intent on re-founding civilization after the fall. Their opponents are the forces of barbarism, incarnated in an unforgetable menagerie of weirdo biker freaks that defies easy description. This is a lean movie that dispenses with the need to develop its view of the future by staging set-piece chase battles so elaborate that one is carried along by the sheer adrenaline rush of speed. The incidental characters are brilliant, from the bizarre villains to the eccentric gyro pilot who plays second banana to Mel Gibson's Max.

Only Max himself seems lackluster: he is given less dialog than Eastwood ever had in the Leone "Man With No Name Movies" and a bare minimum of motivation. This is true to the point that when Max's dog is killed midway in the movie, a good part of his personality goes by the wayside. In the end, he is closer to the nomadic barbarians than he is to the people he protects and this gulf prevents him from taking his place among them. But who cares about all that? The movie never stops long enough for you to wonder about it. This is one of the GREAT action movies, a film so pure in its intention and execution that it is without peer.