Stephen Soderbergh directs an all star cast in action thriller Haywire
, including mixed martial arts supremo Gina Carano as Mallory Kane, a highly-trained black ops specialist, contracted for hazardous covert missions by the US Government. When her paymaster’s point-man (Ewan McGregor) teams her with fellow agent (Channing Tatum) to extract a Chinese journalist held hostage in a Barcelona safe house, the mission swiftly unravels and she barely escapes with her life. During her next assignment in Dublin, with Irish assassin Paul (Michael Fassbender) Mallory is violently betrayed and pursued across the city by the local police and assorted ruthless hitmen.
Now the target of an international manhunt, spearheaded by the CIA official who hired her (Michael Douglas), Mallory realises she can trust no one and is forced to flee across the US from upstate New York to the New Mexico desert. There, she seeks refuge in the home of her ex-soldier father (Bill Paxton), but danger is not far behind her. As she confronts her heavily-armed pursuers, she begins to understand the cause of her betrayal, and the part played by a shadowy Spanish official (Antonio Banderas). Battling with her superiors to uncover the truth behind their deception, she sets out to exact revenge on those that want her dead.
Marking the action film debut of MMA star Gina Carano, Haywire
is an utterly relentless piece of cinema. It's from director Steven Soderbergh, himself better known for films such as Traffic
over straight-out action movies. That does mean, though, that he's comfortable finding his own way through the genre, and he does so with considerable style. Many of the trappings of the modern action movie are avoided as a result.
Carano plays a black ops specialist, who inevitably ends up being betrayed, and finds herself on the run from a cast of surprisingly high profile actors. Chief amongst them? Michael Douglas. But Haywire also finds room in its ranks for Channing Tatum, Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor and many others. Some appear fleetingly, others for longer, but there's a sense that you never quite know who's going to appear next.
Carano's never going to win acting awards, but her genuine MMA skill lends the film real authenticity to its action sequences. Bluntly, this is one action lead who you genuinely believe could do you some damage. The fast moving visuals keep pace with her, and the film, save for a stutter as it approaches the end, exceeds expectations. The DVD itself has a smattering of interesting extra features, but it's the rewatchable nature of the main feature that gives the very best value for money here. More action roles for Carano would be welcome, too. --Jon Foster