If James Bond were a woman, and more of a bad-ass, he’d be Mallory Kane (Gina Carano) in Haywire, the very entertaining and masterfully constructed new action-suspense film by director Steven Soderbergh (Out of Sight, Solaris). In what promises to be an incredible year for action films, including The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises, Haywire has already set the bar high.
The base story of Haywire is relatively run-of-the-mill rogue secret agent fare, as in hardened operative reluctantly take a job, is set up by management machinations, then goes underground to uncover the plot, clear their name and enact revenge on people who did them wrong. But what sets Haywire a notch above the rest is the unique storytelling style for which Soderbergh is so well known. Even though you know where this ride is going, he ingeniously reveals the story’s puzzle in a manner that is as seductive and spellbinding as the film’s star, Gina Carano.
The trailer for Haywire unjustly markets this movie as kind of a female Steven Segal-style vehicle, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that real-life American Gladiator and mixed martial arts athlete Carano has the acting chops, as well as the karate chops, to hold her own with an excellent A-list supporting cast that includes Michael Douglas, Bill Paxton, Antonio Banderas, Ewan McGregor and Michael Fassbender (whom you’ll recognize as Magneto from X-Men: First Class).
There are movies that you see when you know you are experiencing the spectacle of a star being born, and Haywire is one of those films. Gina Carano has both the physical prowess and acting ability to rival the likes of Bruce Willis and Angelina Jolie, but in reality she could probably beat the snot out of both of them with ease — at the same time. This woman has the right stuff, and that stuff is tough as nails.
The action sequences in this film are amazingly realistic and thrilling. The fight choreography taps into, and fully utilizes, Carano’s abilities as a real fighter. I don’t know if she did all of her own brutal stunts or not, but you certainly see her take some punishment. She is tenacious and rugged, but shows enough vulnerability to make you honestly worry about her well-being. In the screening I attended the audience was literally cheering at the outcome of more than one of the battles.
Another star of this film is the original music score by David Holmes. It is a perfect fusion of ’70s-style cop drama jazz, Carlos Santana and Ennio Morricone (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly). It’s not often that the music in an action film stands out beyond a list of mediocre modern songs meant to sell CDs, so compliments to Soderbergh and Holmes for going with original music that takes an approach that is as unique as the film’s narrative.
Haywire is set up to be a franchise and I hope that we’ll see more of Mallory Kane. We are certain to see Gina Carano again, and I can’t wait to see what she does next. At one point in Haywire, Mallory Kane is sarcastically called “Wonder Woman” by an unknowing cop who temporarily has her in custody. There are not many actresses who could convincingly pull off the role of the DC Comics Amazon princess, but Ms. Carano has gone to the top of my wish list.
See the official Haywire trailer