When video stores were booming the shelves were filled with movies that no one had ever heard of. The demand was so high for product that a direct to video business boomed, offering some movies that were actually quite good but low budget. It was from these movies that future stars were born. The video stores may be long gone but that hasn't stopped studios from making movies that now head direct to DVD. This week one of the better ones arrives.
SCORCHED EARTH takes place in the future. Climate change issues have devastated the planet. The air is difficult to breath, water is scarce, flaming storms pop up and locations where you can live enough to survive are few and far between. Machines have been outlawed. There is no central government. And to breath means you have to find the funds to pay for a filter that uses silver.
Towns have crept up and look like the old western towns of yore. And with those towns come lawmen and bounty hunters. The best of these bounty hunters is Gage (Gina Carano). Trained by mentor Doc (John Hannah) before a leg injury sidelined him to his new profession, she is the best tracker there is. If someone has broken the law, Gage is the one to send after them.
After taking out her latest target, a woman named Chavo, Gage learns about a large bounty on the head of a man named Thomas Jackson (Ryan Robbins). Jackson and his men are attacking and kidnapping people across the land and returning with them to the town he now controls. Masquerading as Chavo, Gage infiltrates the town and makes her presence known. She claims to be looking for work but instead learns what Jackson is up to.
Before she can take him in the sheriff of the town Doc lives in, a semi-corrupt lawman determined to get the bounty of Jackson himself, leads an attack on Jackson's town. The end result is not what he expected. With no law nearby Gage is on her own now.
It turns out that Jackson has discovered that the old silver mine actually still has plenty of silver in it. The people he kidnaps are slave labor he's using to mine that silver. Now Gage must not only take Jackson in but try and save these people at the same time. The odds of her being able to do this single handed are slim to none.
Let me say up front that the movie isn't the most mainstream film you will find to rent this week. But it does offer a decent story, good special effects and enough action to keep fans watching. The story basically takes one of the old classic western tales from long ago and transforms it into a science fiction tale. Toss in the fabled bounty hunter and you could drop John Wayne in here anywhere.
Carano has made a few movies since retiring from mixed martial arts competition. Her athletic skills, beauty and ability to say her lines clearly have proven to make her the best women's action star since Cynthia Rothrock. With roles in FAST & FURIOUS 6, FAST & FURIOUS: SHOWDOWN, DEADPOOL and the lead role in HAYWIRE, she has demonstrated she can carry a lead role. In this film her performance is a bit lacking which would make on wonder if it isn't a case of a director that was unsure of how to use her that was the problem having seen how well she did prior.
On the whole the movie does offer a solid bit of entertainment that makes it a movie worth renting if not buying. The western story combined with a post-apocalyptic world works well and provides a nice backdrop for the movie. Carano fans will want to add this to their collection just to make sure they carry on owning all of her films. It's nice to see a woman in a role typically played by a man and capable of doing it right. Let's hope that she continues pursuing a career as an actress, getting better roles as she goes forward.
Review by Mark Turner from the Internet Movie Database.