Do you like to watch dozens of guys firing off hundreds of rounds of ammunition? Do you like seeing cars modded out with steel bumper rams and multiple spikes? Well than this is could be the movie for you. Producer/director Cirio H. Santiago is back with another Mad Max rip-off as once again a lone hero must fight his way across a post-apocalyptic wasteland to fight The Man.
The movie begins with narration informing us that this is, “North Alaska, a hundred years after the nuclear winter. The dense nuclear waste that use to girdle the planet has been burnt away by the blistering relentless sun, and what use to be a snowbound Earth is now nothing but a scorched and arid desert. The north slope is controlled by a military government that calls itself The Ownership.” In Cirio H. Santiago’s previous post-nuke action film Wheels of Fire we met The Ownership, and though that movie’s hero didn’t like their methods they were basically the good guys. In both films The Ownership controls the oil, but in Wheels of Fire they had used that tactic to make communities dependent on them, a soft stick approach if you will, while in this outing we see The Ownership as a straight out evil Fascist type army that wants to see every rival group destroyed.
The opening scene is a skirmish between armed rebels and the black booted thugs of The Ownership army. Captain Slade (Richard Norton) is angered when fellow Ownership officer Major Lawton (William Steis) holds back his men from entering the fray thus allowing Slade’s father, who is the field commander, to be pinned down by the rebels. Slade ignores Lawton’s orders to hold his position and rushes down to help his dad. Lawton clearly wants his commander dead for he then orders his men to start indiscriminately firing into the battle zone with machinegun fire and mortar rounds. Before you can say “Friendly Fire” Slade is injured and his father killed. Slade is taken prisoner by the retreating rebels before Lawton can finish him off.
We don’t get much backstory on Slade just that his father was once an officer in the Airforce, but for what country? And if this is one hundred years after a nuclear winter would there still be countries that have an Airforce? Or are we supposed to believe his dad is over a hundred years old and has just aged really well. Taking in the look of The Ownership uniforms, right down to the Death’s Head insignia, we have to wonder about this group. Are The Ownership leaders so self-aware that they realize that they are the evil government, and have thus modeled themselves after the Nazi Party, or did they just get a good discount at the costume shop? Irregardless the only reason this film’s hero joins the rebels is because one of his own tried to frag him. Seriously, no other motive is given.
Lawton returns to The Ownership fortress and reports to General MacLaine (Peter Shilton) that the rebels killed the Colonel and that Captain Slade has deserted to the enemy, while in fact Slade is taken to the Rebel encampment where they hope to use him for a prisoner exchange. Slade takes umbrage to their rough treatment and escapes, taking one of their cars as a “Fuck you very much.” It’s while racing back to The Ownership fortress, presumably to shoot Lawton in the face, he runs into a Rebel woman named Karen (Corinne Wahl) who is being pursued by a bunch of redneck good ole boys.
Slade is able to drive off the poorly armed Confederate losers, but not without being seriously injured, this forces Karen to bring him back to her encampment. Luckily it is not the same one that Slade just escaped from but is run by Dixon (Rex Cutter), who is also Karen’s father and just so happens to have served in the military with Slade’s father. Truly it is a small world after all. Some of the rebels don’t like the idea of having an Ex-Ownership soldier in their camp, and who can blame them, but once patched up Slade proves his worth by constructing the Equalizer 2000.
We see the gun being built in the only way something can be assembled in the 80s, with a rocking montage. It’s a recombinant automatic sitting atop a portable canon; it has five barrels and can shoot machinegun fire, shotgun blasts, rockets, and mortars. Basically the Equalizer 2000 is the kind of gun most eight year old boys doodled on the back of their school notebooks. When Lawton and his goons track Slade to Dixon’s camp, info he got from Confederate loser Deke (Robert Patrick), he demands they turn over Slade. Dixon refuses and another long drawn-out gun battle ensues. And I do mean long and drawn out, as I’m betting more ammunition was fired in this 87 minute movie then during all five seasons of the A-Team. Worse is that when Slade brings out the awesome Equalizer 2000 it kills exactly zero Ownership dudes, making his kill ratio about on par with Hannibal and his men.
Slade and Karen provide cover fire so that the Rebels can escape, but with that gun (if given to someone who could aim) I see no reason for this retreat. All it does is allow Dixon and company to get ambushed by Deke and friends, used as a bargaining tool that forces Slade to hand over the Equalizer 2000, and gets Karen kidnapped. Lucky for her Slade follows them back to their hideout and drops in just before the raping begins. This alone makes the film better than Wheels of Fire as Karen never gets raped in this film unlike a certain Playboy Playmate in Wheels. Hell, Corinne Wahl was a Penthouse Playmate herself and she never even gets naked for this one.
So Slade manages to rescue Karen from the lascivious overtures of Deke, but in the ensuing fight Deke escapes with the Equalizer 2000. (Note: The name of the gun is never used in the movie but it’s clear that Slade found the infinite ammo cheat code) Sadly Deke doesn’t make it too far as he runs right into The Ownership forces and Lawton orders one of his men to set Deke on fire with a flamethrower. This is not an unusual thing for Lawton as earlier in the film one of his men, having returned after his patrol was ambushed by bow and arrow wielding mountain people, is given the flamethrower treatment. Lawton not so much the subtle villain.
Lawton returns to The Ownership fortress where his successful recovery of the Equalizer 2000 earns him commendations from General MacLaine, but Lawton has bigger plans in mind then just getting a medal so he guns down the General and declares himself head of The Ownership. Meanwhile Dixon’s band of rebels have finally decided to team-up with the group of rebels that had attacked The Ownership in the opening scene, but Slade does not want to be part of this joint effort because his issue with Lawton is personal not political. Slade may be a genius arms designer but he is a bloody moron when it comes to tatics as I’m not sure how he thought he was going to get at Lawton, all by himself, through an army of The Ownership soldiers. This seems to be a motif with Cirio H. Santiago as in Wheels of Fire the hero turned down The Ownership’s offer of assistance in rescuing his sister.
What is fucking bizarre is that minutes later Slade just shows up during the big battle between the rebels and The Ownership. He takes out some flamethrower towers, turning them back on The Ownership troops, and then charges into the fortress with guns blazing. So we are assuming that his morals lost out to common sense. Also for some reason the mountain people show up to help, because you know more the merrier for your big finale.
Then, because I seriously think Cirio H. Santiago has issues with women, Karen runs up behind Lawton and yells out his name, and Lawton of course turns around and guns her down. Is there some kind of rule against shooting your enemy in the back, because if there is I would totally break that rule. So not only does Karen die in the most moronic fashion but her death is never addressed by anybody, least of all the guy who we thought had fallen for her. She doesn’t even get a few last dying words, Slade just runs off after Lawton. Well at least she escaped rape, in the previous movie the Playboy Playmate got raped and killed.
Eventually out hero has his showdown with his nemesis, he fills him full of lead, and the day is saved. But what does out hero do next? Certainly not let Dixon know his daughter is dead, no he stands in front of everyone, smashes the Equalizer 2000 into pieces and then drives off. This causes everyone to walk up and toss their own weapons into a fire, and I guess later they’ll break into a rendition of “Kumbaya My Lord.”
Are we to assume that Slade has suddenly turned into Ghandi and has somehow ended war for all time? These now unarmed idiots better hope another warlord band doesn’t show up to kick the living shit out of them, cause that’s what’s bound to happen. I haven’t seen an ending this dumb since I watched The Last Legion and the idiot kid tossed his sword in the air claiming, “No more blood, no more war.” If only the United Nations knew it was that easy.
There is a lot of action in this movie, not all of it makes sense but there is a lot of it. It is slightly less misogynistic than Wheels of Fire, it’s certainly less rapey, but once again our protagonist isn’t all that likable, and in the case of Slade not even all that memorable. He barely says half a dozen lines in the movie, and mostly just poses with the gun. This film I can only recommend to post-apocalyptic movie buffs as there isn’t much else to offer here, and I still don’t have a clue if this is supposed to be a prequel or a sequel to Wheels of Fire.
Trivia Note: Slade and Karen escape The Ownership goons at one point by blowing up a rock formation, collapsing the rubble in front of Lawton’s group of cars. A scene you may recall that happened in George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road. So it’s possible that George Miller ripped off a Mad Max rip-off.