America’s newest action-movie heroine — one who actually does her own stunts — makes her debut in Haywire.
With her buff, athletic build and menacing grimace, mixed martial arts (MMA) star Gina Carano (also the daughter of a former Dallas Cowboys quarterback) certainly looks the part of the angry action star.
One look at Carano and it was obvious that Channing Tatum, Ewan McGregor and Michael Fassbender weren’t going to have a chance when it came time to battle.
And speaking of battles, I wondered if I was the only one who found it a tad uncomfortable watching man after man attempt to beat up a woman. (Hasn’t it been drilled in our heads that’s a big no-no?)
Anyhow, this action-thriller, directed by Steven Soderbergh (Contagion), pits Mallory Kane (Carano) against numerous bad guys in a fight to save her life. Mallory is a highly trained operative who works for a government security contractor. She is betrayed and left for dead by someone close to her in her own agency. All of this is told to the audience in flashback.
The action is the movie’s strongest asset since the plot is severely lacking. The story from writer Lem Dobbs isn’t very engaging, and when no fighting is going on, things get sluggish quickly. I also didn’t feel it was suspenseful, simply because it was obvious that Mallory always had the upper hand.
To Soderbergh’s credit, the movie looks good stylistically, and the fight sequences are choreographed well and are fairly realistic, unlike those in many action flicks.
Even the movie’s opening is a bit sleepy, with Mallory sitting alone at a small-town diner. Enter Aaron (Tatum) with some brief small talk, and all of a sudden, he’s trying to kill her. From their brief conservation, it’s obvious that they had some sort of involvement in Barcelona, but it’s very unclear why they seem to want each other dead. She takes him down and escapes the diner, roping in a random diner patron named Scott (Michael Angarano) because she needs his car.
She proceeds to tell Scott nearly her entire life story as they drive off to some unspecified location. The movie jet-sets off to different locations as Mallory explains to Scott (in flashbacks) how she was double-crossed by her agency, headed by Kenneth (McGregor) and another agent named Paul (Fassbender), while on a mission in Dublin.
Carano’s acting and line delivery need some polishing (apparently her voice was altered for the film, and it seemed very unnatural and monotone). It’s rather obvious that Haywire is her first flick; the stunt work is impressive, but not enough to carry a 90-minute movie.
The movie boasts an above-average but underused supporting cast. The characters played by Antonio Banderas, Bill Paxton and Michael Douglas were more like blink-and-you’ll-miss-them cameos.
With a butt-kicking woman as the lead, Haywire seems on the surface like it should be different enough to be memorable. Unfortunately, it was boring enough to be forgettable. This spy flick is paint-by-numbers, with the gender of the lead its only real conversation point. ••
Movie Grade: CEndFragment