Review: Scorched Earth

Scorched Earth
6 10

PLOT: A bounty hunter seeks revenge against a villainous cowboy in this science fiction, western mash-up.

REVIEW: At first glance, the post-apocalyptic, low-budget action flick, SCORCHED EARTH didn’t look like much. This kind of thing is done way too often and with mostly terrible results. For every MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, there are a dozen or so cheapie snooze fests that are far too shoddily done to give any thought to. I’d wager that you can find a ton of these on Netflix streaming. While this latest feature from director Peter Howitt (SLIDING DOORS, ANTITRUST) is better than it should be, it certainly has its share of issues, yet it still manages to make the best of a predictable script. This is in part because of the film’s star Gina Carano. When she beats down on a baddie, she looks like she means it. And frankly, it’s kind of fun to watch.

SCORCHED EARTH takes place after the world has been destroyed by climate change, leaving the air nearly unbreathable and the survivors hell bent on survival. And what comes with this type of flick? An anti-hero by the name of Gage (Carano), a bounty hunter who is seeking out a villainous fella named Thomas Jackson (Ryan Robbins). After she is forced to take the life of a criminal by the name of Chavo (Luvia Peterson), Gage takes on her identity to get close to Jackson. Once inside his den of thieves and cretins, she develops a close relationship with her target, as well as his wife Melena (Stephanie Bennett). However, the closer she gets to breaking up his entourage, she finds herself in danger of being discovered. You see, in this town, they don’t take kindly to bounty hunters.

scorched earth gina carano john hannah peter howitt science fiction western low budget

The script written by Kevin Leeson and Bobby Mort, while not necessarily good, manages to inject a little humor into Gage’s adventures. By creating a genre mash-up that is part post-apocalyptic action with the huge heart of a western, they have a bit of fun with a few cinematic cliches. However, they also rarely give the audience any surprises. It takes a bit to really get a grasp on what Gage is after, but once you do you won’t be shocked at the outcome. It also doesn’t help that there are far too many convenient characters showing up to help Gage achieve her ultimate goal. The dialogue can be a bit silly, but thankfully the film never takes itself all that seriously, which is a good thing.

When it comes to action, Gina Carano is pretty terrific. She is a very imposing figure when she wants to be. She makes it all look easy as she beats down every bad guy or girl she can. Since her work in the Steven Soderbergh feature HAYWIRE, she appears to be more comfortable with the non-punching moments. Her on-screen relationship with Ryan Robbins is terrific - he makes for a effectively charismatic bad guy - and the same could be said about co-star John Hannah. The actor takes on the role of Doc - and I’m sure you can guess how he helps her with that name. Hannah, who also starred in Howitt’s SLIDING DOORS, gives perhaps the best performance in the film.

scorched earth gina carano peter howitt john hannah science fiction western

This flick began with the familiar stock footage of the ice caps melting and similar images, it was kind of refreshing when it went all wild west on us. Setting a western in modern times, with the whole end of the world aspect, they manage to make it feel strangely timeless. You have cars, a tank that looks like something out of the classic TV-series Hogan’s Heroes and the tobacco chewing denizens of a town filled with all sorts of dangerous men. And speaking of men, with a few minor changes, Gage could have easily been played by someone like Dolph Lundren or Jean-Claude Van Damme. There are moments that call for her to be “attacked” by a scoundrel or two, and she makes sure to teach these boys a lesson.

For a straight-to-DVD flick, SCORCHED EARTH is a bit of dumb fun. The script is far too predictable, and a bit too convenient when it comes to saving our hero's behind. However, Gina Carano is a pleasure to watch, as are Hannah and Robbins. It was nice to see the antagonist as more than just a mustache twirling stereotype. Peter Howitt is able to work with the script, and make it look far better than one would expect. For a small genre mash-up, SCORCHED EARTH makes the best of a formulaic script, thanks to a good cast and an entertaining western feel. If you are in the mood for a moderately engaging sci-fi western, you could do far worse than watching Gina Carano kick a ton of cowboy ass.

Source: JoBlo.com



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