Space Rage is a mix of science fiction and the old west.
In what the movie insists is the far future, a sadistic and notorious criminal named Grange (Michael Pare) is a captured after robbing the Bank of the Moon. As his punishment, he’s sent to a prison planet called Botany Bay. Despite the name, the entire prison is a desert. (Maybe they named it after the doomed colony from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.) The prison is run by Gov. Tovah (William Windom), who uses the prisoners as slave labor in his mines. Grange doesn’t want to work as a miner so he plots his escape. There’s only one shuttle that goes from Botany Bay to Earth and Grange plans to be in control of it.
Two men are determined to stop Grange and his partners from escaping the planet. Walker (John Laughlin) is a young bounty hunter who is haunted by he death of his wife. The Colonel (Richard Farnsworth) is a former policeman who is haunted by nightmares of his time on Earth. Working together, the inexperienced Walker and the crusty, old Colonel try to thwart Grange’s plans. Grange has an itchy trigger finger and is willing to kill anyone to get what he wants. Grange may be quick on the draw but the Colonel might be even quicker.
Space Rage starts out as a western before becoming a prison film before then concluding as a Mad Max rip-off, with everyone chasing each other through the desert in intergalactic dune buggies. The movie is only 75 minutes long but due to a repetitive soundtrack and some less than inspired dialogue, it often feels longer. The Botany Bay is too obviously Southern California to be an effective setting and neither Michael Pare nor John Laughlin seem to be invested in their roles. Not surprisingly, the film’s greatest strength is Richard Farnsworth, playing another no-nonsense veteran tough guy and doing what a man has to do to keep Earth safe. His presence alone does not make Space Rage worth watching but it definitely helps. It’s a good thing he was out there looking out for us.