76. Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior

RoadWarrior1A warrior limps along a desert road — shotgun in hand, dog by his side. That could be anything. Is it Fallout 3? A Boy and his Dog? Some Zombie X? A small craft scoots overhead, and a parade of post-apocalyptic dune buggies, trucks, and motorcycles, pieces of each taken apart and stuck on the other, zooms by, headed into the ragtag village.

It’s not even Mad Max — it’s The Road Warrior, the anti-hero from the outback revamped and back for more. The original film is enjoyable but bare, a first step forward with enough seeds laid to bloom into pure 80s iconography. The Night Rider is good, but Lord Humongous will break you.

There’s the real opportunity with The Road Warrior to discuss post-apocalyptic themes. The destruction of the planet, the culture of violence, the limited resources — it’s also a taken opportunity to ignore all of that and burst forward with explosive violence and chase action.

It’s an extended car chase with a narrative built around it. Before the race begins, we know the players, their stories, and why we gotta go fast. And then we go fast, and those post-apocalyptic vehicles are blowing up and flipping, and psychopunks are jumping from car to car and getting shot by shotguns and using crossbows and knives…

It isn’t about formula, because Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome was seriously off-kilter. It could be lightning in a bottle — a rawness impossible to replicate. A bristling expression of aggression that spells what the post-apocalypse could mean for a few crazy people — freedom.

You can put on football pads and have a pink Mohawk. You can blow into town and save the day, impact the lives of seemingly unimportant people and disappear into the horizon. You didn’t say much, but you were mad. Mad as hell, mad as Mad Max.

There’s also a left-turn rape scene (as all are) that’s super unnecessary (as all are), but hopefully the last thirty to forty minutes blanks it out of your mind, as it will blank everything else.

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