Movie Review: “Scorched Earth” is D-movie Hell for Gina Carano

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Mixed Martial Artist Ronda Rousey’s recently announced move to pro wrestling had to give Gina Carano pause. Rousey’s movie-star-pretty predecessor in the MMA spotlight may have made a splash in the movies with “Haywire,” and had her shot at playing a Marvel villain in “Deadpool.”

But the movies are starting to hit the “diminishing returns” side of the ledger for her, these days. A D-movie like “Scorched Earth” is enough to make one wonder if maybe Rousey isn’t making the smarter play.

Carano can still, at 35, deliver in the fight scenes. But this post-apocalyptic dog of a picture shows her racing into “over the hill so I’ll just use guns” territory, something Chuck and Jean Claude and Jackie only got around to when the stunts got to be too much.

She plays Atticus (HAH!) Gage, a bounty hunter in the post-climate collapse future who wanders the wastelands hunting down outlaws. Their biggest crime? “Fossil abuser.” As in, they’re rapists, kidnappers, murderers and slave traders in a world where the air is so foul everybody has to wear filter-masks, even the horses.

Until the star needs her close-up, of course.

“Belching” pollution in the few fossil fuel vehicles left is a no-no, punished by “the authorities,” who pay Gage her bounties. Reluctantly, it turns out. The only difference between her and the cretins she hunts? “I’m still above ground.”

Maybe she inadvertently frees hostages here and there, kills off a quarry up to no good. She’s not responsible for their safe-keeping, getting them to “civilization.”

“Not my problem.”

No wonder the “Doc” (John Hannah of “Four Weddings and a Funeral”) at New Montana (“Population, 24) is her only friend.

The never-ending search for powdered silver, useful in the post “Cloud Fall” atmospheric collapse filter masks, means she’s hellbent on catching the biggest outlaw of them all, Jackson ( Ryan Robbins). She’ll just steal the hat and scarf of the black-toothed harpy she just brought in (dead, not alive) and pass herself off as an ally to get close to Jackson, before grabbing him and taking him back to face rough justice and collect her silver bounty.

Jackson’s town has a silver mine which needs slaves and a saloon that needs a torch singer. That’s where Melanie (Stephanie Bennett) fits in, all slinky and sexy because otherwise, the locals would notice that’s not her voice coming out when she sings the blues. Worst. Lip. Sync. Ever.

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Carano isn’t the only one whose presence here denotes hard times in the movie biz. Director Peter Howitt (“Johnny English,” “Sliding Doors”) has seen better days. So has his “Sliding Doors” star Hannah.

One and all are stuck with rehashed exchanges such as “Where you from?” “What do you care?” and lines like “I think perhaps I’m just an outlet for all this misplaced rage,” and “It’s a fine line between ignorance and arrogance.”

Say what now? Fighting words, in any event. They all are.

“Shall we begin?”

The performances are stock and unsurprising, with Carona showing a lot of teeth in an era when most everybody else’s are brown from the lack of Crest.

The locations are mostly Canadian deserts, quarries, ghost towns and the ruins of a marine (boat) wrecking yard. The color palette is “Deadwood” brown. There’s even a poker game in the saloon. I could swear they were playing for marshmallows.

Which, as everybody knows, will survive the apocalypse. But can this cast and crew survive the ignominy of “Scorched Earth?”

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MPAA Rating:R for violence and some language

Cast: Gina Carano, John Hannah, Ryan Robbins, Stephanie Bennett

Credits:Directed by Peter Howitt, script by Kevin LeesonBobby Mort. A Cinedigm release.

Running time: 1:36

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