BY MARK TURNER
It seems that we've never had a female version of the James Bond character. Certainly, Bond has had his share of femme fatales but never has one taken the lead role in a film. The closest we've had in the past was Cynthia Rothrock, who starred in a series of martial arts films, but those were always B-movie quality. That all changes with HAYWIRE.
MMA star Gina Carano starts as Mallory Kane, an operative for a private group that hires out to the likes of the CIA. An ex-Marine, Mallory is more tomboy than girly girl. As the film opens she makes her way to a diner where she meets up with Aaron (Channing Tatum), a fellow operative sent to bring her in. When she refuses the first of many well-choreographed fight sequences begins.
Mallory escapes and is on the run with a young man from the diner in tow. As they speed off she begins to tell him her tale.
It all went sour with a job in Barcelona. Mallory's boss Kenneth (Ewan McGregor) has sent her out at the request of Coblenz (Michael Douglas), the head of a secret government agency one would assume is the CIA, and fellow spymaster Rodrigo (Antonio Banderas). It should be a simple snatch and grab, rescuing a hostage and taking him home.
When one of the guards for the hostage takes off, Mallory chases him down, resulting in another well-choreographed fight sequence.
Home after the run Mallory finds Kenneth waiting for her and asking her to do one more job before some well earned time off. This time the job takes her to Ireland where she is to meet up with a member of MI-6 named Paul (Michael Fassbender). At a party hosted by some big wig, Mallory wanders around and discovers the hostage from the Barcelona affair with a bullet in his head. Something seems wrong which becomes painfully obvious when Paul tries to kill Mallory when they return to their hotel room. He doesn't succeed.
Traveling home with the intent of revenge, Mallory has ended where we found her at the beginning of the film. Just who she can and can not trust is in question. The only person she does is her father, an ex-military man himself (played by Bill Paxton). When a hit squad with Kenneth shows there the chances of their survival are slim even though they exude confidence. How the film finishes, just who was it that was behind all the skullduggery and who will pay make for a fine film.
Directed by Steven Soderbergh this is not his usual style of film. This outing into the world of action adventure shows he is quite capable. While not quite up to par with the Bourne films, the movie does take its action sequences seriously and shoots them in the way they should be shot, with the camera back a way so we can actually watch the fight scenes rather than in the middle looking for close ups.
The story is well written and thought out though it takes a while to get to the bottom of things. Perhaps more clues along the way would have upped the ante here, but as it is the movie still tells a compelling story.
The movie seems made for Carano, forming around her and her incredible fighting skills, showing them off as best as they can. One would think that her acting ability would be lacking but she demonstrates an ability to do better than most real life action stars pushed into the world of film. Her character does offer a rather stoic look more often than not, but for a first feature role she does outstanding. Future films will tell if she can get the acting chops she needs or not.
For an action film the action must be non-stop and well thought out. It must be paced at regular intervals and those scenes must work well within the story. That is done here in spades. It also must feature someone who can handle the action as well as co-stars who can do the same. That's also well done here, including having Fassbender do his own stunts in the fight sequence he performs with Carano. It all results in a fast paced, well made action film that's worth your rental fee.
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