Cast: Gina Carano, John Hannah
Written by: Kevin Leeson, Bobby Mort
Directed by: Peter Howitt
Running time: 96 minnutes
Before Ronda Rousey came along Gina Carano was the face of women’s mixed martial arts fighting. Compiling a record of 12-1-1 in Muay Thai and 7 – 1 in MMA Carano not only had the fighting chops but movie star beauty to make a move into Hollywood a no-brainer. Since her debut in the underrated 2011 action film “Haywire” her film career has been a mixed bag of small roles in major films like The Fast and the Furious and Deadpool, and starring roles in direct-to-video releases. Scorched Earth certainly fits into the latter category.
The film is a low budget, post-apocalyptic sci-fi/action film that really owes its influence to the western genre. An ecological disaster strikes the world (accompanied with a heavy-handed message about climate change) leaving much of the air and water deadly to humans after prolonged exposure. People must wear masks to breathe in these toxic areas and water purification tablets are more valuable than gold. Gas-powered vehicles are outlawed under penalty of death.
Carano plays Gage, a bounty hunter who goes after those who break the prohibition against the use of motor vehicles. Her only friend and mentor is Doc (Hannah) as disabled former bounty hunter who now assigns her bounties. Against Doc’s advice, Gage sets her sights on the leader of a group of bandits who was responsible for killer her sister. Posing as a wanted criminal Gage infiltrates the bandit’s stronghold intent on taking him and his gang down.
Scorched Earth, despite being a science fiction film, runs with one of the most common themes in western films…getting revenge on those who killed a family member. In fact, the movie would have been better served if it had been a straight western. The science fiction elements ultimately matter little in the overall narrative and are inconsistent at best. We see some characters who suffer terrible, plague-like effects of the toxins in the air and water while Gage seems to forget to wear her breathing mask half the time. Most of the characters are riding horses so why not just go all the way?
A lot of the action comes by way of gun fights which simply do not play to Carino’s strength. She’s taller and more muscular than Rousey and definitely an imposing figure. We don’t get enough of her fighting mixing it up hand-to-hand until the very end and those last 15 to 20 minutes are the highlight of the film. Carino doesn’t as of yet have the ability to carry the load without there being a good deal of action and some experience co-stars to help her out. John Hannah is a fine actor and is good in everything he does but even he seems stymied by a script that is silly and doesn’t give its lead much to do.
DVD Extras: None