Scorched Earth Review

Scorched Earth is 2018 sci-thriller about a bounty hunter who tracks down criminals in a Earth gone to hell.

Post-apocalyptic movies are by design a dreary lot, their ubiquity like zombie flicks, barely anything more than variations of a ragtag hero trying to survive in a world gone mad. Peter Howitt‘s latest Scorched Earth, is one in the same, albeit with a welcome twist, a female lead, Gina Carano, and while she possesses a powerful natural presence, it’s not quite enough to give this uninspired thriller any significance.

With a loose set up, our modern day catch-all villain – global warming – up and decides to reset the world. It’s the near future and most of the population has been wiped out by a damaged atmosphere, flooding and general climate-related mayhem. Pockets of humanity cling to life, territories re-establishing a sense of civilization akin to the old American west. They trade in pills that make water potable and silver powder used in breathing masks. In all this is Gage (Carano), a bounty hunter tracking down ‘belchers’, people who still drive what’s left of gas-powered vehicles, causing further damage to the environment. Everyone else rides horses (wearing masks). One day, she learns of a village stuffed with seedy types and run by a baddie named Thomas Jackson (Ryan Robbins), he with a big bounty on his head. Disguised as a criminal she recently took down, she infiltrates the town and saddles up to Jackson, with a lot more than just collecting bounty on her mind.

The trouble with movies like this is that they tend to fall into the same rut, revenge the motivation. There’s always a nasty guy like Jackson in charge who somehow did something awful bad to our hero, and it’s just a matter of time and hurdles until the big confrontation finds them mano a mano. So it is for Gage, who befriends the battered Melena (Stephanie Bennett), Jackson’s abused girlfriend, a young woman who reminds her of someone very important as she gets closer to the mark. Certainly Howitt, working off a screenplay by Kevin Leeson and Bobby Mort can’t be blamed for following the formula, however, the filmmakers miss the opportunity to do anything even slightly imaginative.  

The problems starts with Jackson, who is simply not at all villainous enough, with the film corralling him into obvious bad guy tropes, including a fascination with a Venezuelan military and political leader, a penchant for smarmy dialogue, a gaggle of brawny henchmen, and well, you get the picture. Gage is an interesting character, made so my Carano, yet she’s hampered by a derivative screenplay and a film with zero pulse, running empty on all the same beats we’ve seen time and time again.

Howitt, who got his start with 1998’s Sliding Doors (which perhaps explains the presence of John Hannah in this movie), plays it safe throughout, which means it isn’t necessarily bad, just perfuctory. Every single shot is boilerplate action, leaving the film predictable from frame one, even if most of the actors give it some game. Fans of Carano – and you should be one – will tune in simply to see the should be-star kick some ass, though for most anyone else, this will be a disappointment.

Scorched Earth Review


Director(s): Peter Howitt

Actor(s): Gina Carano, John Hannah, Stephanie Bennett

Genre: Sci-fi, Action

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