The title doesn't do this film justice. Haywire is a fast-paced action thriller about a female spy on the run to win her life back. Mallory, played by former martial arts pro Gina Carano, is decisive, calculating and fights like Jean-Claude Van Damme (but has better hair!).
Carano is a student of martial arts. And, it's not only fun to watch her fight for emotional reasons tied to the story, but her technique is one of a champion. With excellent precision, it's clear that she could snap your neck with the twist of her thighs and she's got everyone this side of the state department trying to lure her back home.
The performance is subtle, and the audience is never quite clear what her character is thinking. Carano reminds us of a cross between Linda Hamilton's Sarah Connor and Angelina Jolie's Lara Croft. She's got enough femme power to carry a movie.
Somehow, though, the men in this movie can't seem to get it through their thick skulls that she's a person to take seriously. Very seriously. She is lethal, and there's nothing they can do about it.
Ewan McGregor plays Kenneth, her boss and ex-boyfriend. When he sends her on a mission only a notch shadier than he is, Mallory starts to wonder if this isn't all a set up. After meeting, and falling (can we blame her, ladies?) for fellow spy Aaron, played by Channing Tatum, it's clear she's chosen the wrong ally in her fight for freedom.
And, that's just the beginning of the complicated plot web that is Haywire. Michael Douglas plays the suit, Michael Fassbender plays the job and Antonio Banderas plays the negotiator. You're never quite sure whose side you should be on, and that's half the fun.
Steven Soderbergh's directing is crisp, clean and to the point. The sober nature of Contagion stayed with him in this production, and he's now all but lost that Ocean's Eleven glam from his earlier days. Despite recent trends to have sweeping musical scores in action films, Soderbergh tries something different. Less music. More controlled sound effects. The outcome is effective. Silence adds tension.
If you like female action movies like Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Salt, Kill Bill and Underworld, you'll love the girl power aspect of this movie. But never fear if femme power isn't enough to get you into the theater. If you're a fan of edgy espionage films like vintage James Bond or The Bourne Identity, Haywire brings it on every level.
Bottom line: Don't miss Steven Soderbergh's Haywire and the new action hero that is Gina Carano, the female spy with a killer scissor kick… literally!
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