Chill Box: Mad Max 2: Road Warrior

Written by: Carlos Zotomayor

Film | Mar 3, 2016

Chill Box Mad Max Mel Gibson Road Warrior

Chill Box is where we relax and talk about video games and film from the distant past. There's a lot of cool stuff out there the younger generation have yet to experience or even heard about.

These days, you can't get enough of post-apocalyptic/post-pandemic stuff: The Walking Dead, The Last of Us, and Fallout are just a few examples of franchises that capitalize on survival as a main theme and drop their characters into situations where morals and a conscience will often get you killed.

But where did all this start?

The idea of bombs dropping and the world ending dates back to the 1950s, where mankind was just realizing the power of the atomic bomb, but it's what happens after the world ends that leaves much to the imagination... mostly because it has not happened yet.

A lot of writers and storytellers have put their own spin on a world where mankind lives off the remains of civilization, but most if not all of them draw on a film that almost certainly defined the genre: Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior.

Where the first Mad Max film introduced us to its titular main character, Max Rockatansky, Mad Max 2 drastically changed the series' direction from a not-far-off future into one that is bleak, fast, and full of sand.

It's within this film that we get introduced to the second main character of the entire franchise: the world.

Make no mistake - Mad Max films will always have Max in them (for legal reasons), but it is in The Road Warrior where we first see the post-apocalyptic world and characters George Miller has made as being far more interesting than the person the series is named after.

The Road Warrior sees Max getting caught up in a conflict between a gang of marauders led by Lord Humungus and a small community that defends an oil refinery. The marauders seek the gasoline that the community defends and are planning to take it by force while the guardians seek an escape from the gang harassing them.

The plot on the whole seems very thin when compared to today's standards but what it lacks in story it makes up for with crazy action pieces and depth that many movies today seem to lack.

Now when you first see the movie, you may think that it's full of nothing but guys dressed-up for weird sex screaming their lungs out... and you would be forgiven for doing so.

This is a series that is loosely based on reality so instead of all the other-worldly apparel and gadgets you might see in space movies like Star Wars, you see people dress and use whatever survived the apocalypse - which seems to be saucepans and a lot of leather.

Apart from that, you also see that this is a world where survival is the biggest concern among its inhabitants.

Max himself is not your typical movie hero. He's selfish, self-centred, and he can lose (unlike the majority of action heroes back in the day). He is complemented by a variety of characters who show that they are neither good nor bad but rather people who just want to survive to see the next day.

Another thing that makes these characters so unique is that most of them don't even have names but rather are called by what they do or look like, giving them a more bare-bones personality and removes the need to remember who is who.

It's a film that thrives on subtle moments to give it weight rather than flat out exposition. When you see Max collect gasoline with tin cups and an old rag, or when you see him eat dog food like it was his first meal in a long time, you know just how far mankind has fallen. These slow moments compliment the moments wherein all hell breaks loose, making them more impactful and urgent.

And there are a lot of these.

Apart from the sand, the Mad Max series is best known for its fast vehicular combat and The Road Warrior is no exception.

Whenever combat occurs, you can be sure that either something will explode, die, or both, but what makes Mad Max 2 different from other movies is that the scenes take on a grittier approach where everything seems to have been done in the spur of the moment rather than look heavily rehearsed.

You will see crossbow bolts dig into people's flesh and get reused by the people who get shot by them. You will see how sparingly Max uses his ammunition for his iconic sawed-off shotgun. You will see how all these characters scramble and fight for their lives like everything is on the line and for a good reason: it is.

That is ultimately why Mad Max 2 is such a good movie: it never loses sight of its main theme of survival and centres every aspect around it.

It treats its audience to a unique world but doesn't overindulge us by giving the whole history and settles on letting us use our imagination to fill in the blanks. The result is a movie that's tighter than leather pants and an experience that has passed the test of time and will continue to do so - well after the world ends.

About the author: Carlos Zotomayor

Zoto can see your underpants. Mmm... tasteful.

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