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Haywire – Steven Soderbergh – Gina Carano kicks ass





Haywire – Steven Soderbergh

Soderbergh’s pacy little action thriller has three things going for it: a heavyweight cast; the most convincing woman Black Ops agent ever; and directly linked to the last – a chance for once for a woman to credibly kick some seriously deserving male ass.

Real life champion martial arts exponent Gina Carano plays Mallory Kane, a laid-back, laconic Bourne-ette agent; double and triple-crossed by her own bosses – well what would you expect from a bunch of weedy male creeps who can hardly get a foot, or their minds, above the waist? Thanks to her Muay Thai (kickboxing’s ‘Art of eight limbs’) and MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) background Mallory’s battles look like edited fights rather than fight edits: the longer ‘takes’ give the clue to the apparently authentic, though of course choreographed conflicts. When not handing out leg-crossing suffering to every guy who lies to her, and most do, (so what’s new?) Carano has an appealing ‘stillness’ on camera; with an enticing combination of strength and intelligence that serves Soderbergh’s purposes and my pulse rate pretty well.

Adding gravitas to a pretty sketchy bunch of liars, manipulators, control freaks and assassins are variously Michael (well-endowed flavour of the month) Fassbender, Michael Douglas, a nastily duplicitous Ewan McGregor, an unrecognizable, almost audible, tongue-in-cheek Antonio Banderas; and beefy beefcakey Channing Tatum. McGregor especially seems to be having fun playing against good-guy type while sporting the worst haircut since the mischievous Cohen brothers took a pudding basin to Javier Bardem in No Country For Old Men – “no Javier, I’m sorry we don’t have a mirror – honestly, it looks great!

I will blatantly make a virtue of necessity and not spoil your enjoyment or ruin my parlous reputation by trying to ‘do’ the plot. Suffice to say Mallory is the best ‘man’ McGregor’s ‘Kenneth’ (no disprespect to you ‘Kens’ out there but that has to sound different to Americans for someone still on the payroll to have chosen it) has in his privatised security agency to which governments have outsourced their more nefarious aims and objectives. I think, though I’m not sure, that Douglas’s Coblenz (sounding like an up-market bottle of Port), is supposed to be official Secret Service representing some undisclosed American acronym (I guess ‘SS’ is out), trying to catch Kenneth out. As Kenneth is screwing Mallory, in a non-sexual way, to achieve his own ends which never became entirely clear to me, Coblenz enlists Mallory’s unsurpassed combative skills to help him. But he issues the traditional warning in such situations – that she’s on her own should things go what I guess in this case we must describe as tits down.

Helped by an adoring, awe-struck ex-military dad (Bill Paxton) Mayhem Mallory, as you may guess, wins through with a beyond-the-credits come-uppance awaiting the real villain – who I will of course let you guess for yourself dear reader.

Soderbergh keeps the whole show rolling along with enough pace to still any initial misplaced efforts to understand exactly what’s going on.

Great fun in a white hat, black hat, cheer the Goodie (girl) boo the (boy) Baddies kind of way. Corano looks good, fights good, and under Soderbergh’s expert tutelage acts good: i.e doesn’t try too much and lets her latent physical prowess simmer inside to create a pretty potent and definitely sexy presence on screen. The girl, sorry, the woman done good. Definitely a more impressive gig than her last one – as ‘Crush’ on American Gladiators.

And watch out Mr Cruise – this girl can run too! Over 100 metres for my money there’s nothing like this dame.

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