Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981) Story Recap – A bigger, faster, and crazier sequel to the 1979 classic

Mad Max 2

The first Mad Max movie is a stone-cold action classic. But the sequel ups the ante with a bigger budget, crazier stunt sequences, and some of the best vehicle chases in cinematic history. 

As Furiosa, the prequel to the Mad Max movies, is in theatres at the time of writing, there is no better time than now to recap the second movie’s plotline to bring you up to speed with the events that followed in this sequel.

Mad Max 2 Story Recap

There are no shrimps on the barbie for the unfortunate denizens of futuristic Australia. At the time this movie is set, civilisation has collapsed, the world has descended into barbarism, and warring tribes battle for one precious commodity: fuel! 

Into this madness steps Max Rockatansky, who drives his supercharged black v-8 Pursuit Special around the desert with only his loyal Australian Cattle Dog for company. 

As the film begins, we see Max fending off a group of marauders led by their vicious biker chief, Wez. When they head off into the distance, Max collects fuel from one of their wrecked vehicles and continues on his journey into the wasteland. 

Later, Max sees a gyrocopter and tries to capture it for fuel. However, he is ambushed by the pilot, who has set a trap for the ‘road warrior.’ He is no match for Max and his dog, however, who outmanoeuvre him and decide to spare his life in return for information. 

The pilot tells Max about a working oil refinery and leads him to its location.

What happens at the oil refinery?

From a distant position, Max and the pilot see a vicious gang led by the merciless Lord Humungus attack the compound. Some of the settlers there try to escape in cars but they are unable to flee from the marauders who give chase. 

Max is able to rescue a man named Nathan whom he strikes a deal with: He will take him back to the compound in exchange for fuel. Sadly, Nathan dies on the way back and with him, so does the deal.

At the compound, the settlers are about to confiscate Max’s car when the marauders return. A feral child who lives in the compound takes out one of the marauders with his metal boomerang. Wez wants revenge on the kid, but Lord Humungus intervenes and offers to spare the lives of the settlers in exchange for fuel.

The settlers are given time to contemplate the proposal when the gang leaves. They are divided over the offer given by Humungus but then Max comes up with an idea of his own – he will retrieve an abandoned semi-truck he saw earlier so they can haul away their tanker full of oil across the wasteland. In return, he asks for petrol and the return of his car.

When the settlers agree to this proposal, Max sets out at night on foot with the fuel and returns to the truck with the pilot, who provides air support in his gyrocopter.

After driving the truck back to the compound, Max is invited to escape with the settlers but he declines their offer. Instead, he accepts the fuel he was promised and continues on his way without them.

What happens to Max?

After leaving the compound, Max crashes his car after being chased down by Wez in a nitrous-equipped vehicle. Max is injured in the crash but he survives his injuries, unlike his dog who is killed by a crossbow-wielding marauder. 

The other marauders try to siphon fuel out of Max’s car but fall foul of an explosive booby trap set by Max. The pilot then arrives to rescue Max and takes him back to the compound. Preparations then begin for the settlers’ escape. 

Despite his injuries, Max is able to drive the freshly repaired truck with the tanker. He leaves the compound with the feral kid hanging onto the truck while some of the other settlers take up armed positions on the vehicle. Accompanying them in a vehicle of his own is Pappagallo, the compound leader, and the pilot who takes to the skies in his gyrocopter.

While the marauders chase the tanker, the remaining settlers take the opportunity to flee the compound after rigging the refinery to explode. 

A fierce chase begins as the marauders pursue Max and co into the desert. During the skirmish, Pappagallo and the settlers on the truck are killed, and the pilot is shot down from his airborne position. 

Does Max survive the attack?

Wez boards the truck as Max turns it around. As Max fights with the lowlife, he crashes the truck into Humungus’s vehicle and kills both Wez and the marauder leader.

Max then loses control of his vehicle and runs it off the road. The marauders leave the scene when they see what the tanker is leaking. It turns out the settlers had filled it with sand and not fuel.

Max realizes he had been used as a diversion while the other settlers made their escape with the concealed petrol drums. After carrying the feral kid away from the tanker, he meets up again with the pilot. They rendezvous with the settlers and the pilot becomes their new leader in the wake of Pappagallo’s death. 

As the film draws to an end, the narrator (who turns out to be the feral kid) reveals that he became the “Chief of the Great Northern Tribe” when he grew up. He concludes that he never saw Max again. 

Of course, Max’s journey wasn’t over at the end of Mad Max 2. He went on to meet a gang of other children in the third film in the franchise, in which he also came face-to-face with Tina Turner at the now-legendary Thunderdome.


Read More: Mad Max (1979) Story Recap

Are you a fan of Mad Max 2? Did we miss out any vital plot details? Let us know in the comments below.

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