Lean, stripped down and ready for action, Haywire is a fast-paced romp that introduces the world of cinema to the charms and bonecrunching talents of MMA star Gina Carano.

Having appeared in a host of TV movies, and had a stint as Crush on American Gladiators, there is no doubting Carano’s physical prowess.

Sure, she may lack the acting range of some of her co-stars here, but when she can dish out the smackdown like she does, frankly who cares?

Steven Soderbergh has produced a bare-bones, 90-minute jolt of entertainment that fairly rattles along, and is a cinematic antidote to the flashy, explosion-laden fare that Hollywood so regularly offers up.

One could expect the plot to be a by-the-numbers affair, but in fact the whole thing is actually quite complicated, leaving the viewer playing catch-up furiously as events unravel.

Sure, a secret agent being set up by her own bosses is hardly something new, but there are so many parties involved you need a checklist to work out just who is double-crossing who.

Carano plays Mallory Kane, a black-ops specialist who is set up to take the fall after a job inBarcelonaturns sour.

Kane is expected to be offed in a Dublin hotel room, with a neat trail of evidence left behind to convict her, but wouldn’t you know, after a few broken bones and choked throats, Kane is on the run and gunning for her former employers.

So far so straight-to-DVD I know, but when these employers include Michael Douglas, Ewan McGregor, Channing Tatum, Antonio Banderas and more, suddenly the whole package takes on a very different appearance.

Soderbergh must have people tripping over themselves to work with him (hardly surprising considering his back catalogue), as he has the ability to tempt the biggest stars to low/mid-budget material – remember Contagion recently?

The overall feel of the film is one of reality (or as much reality as a film of this nature can be), and it really works.

Numerous scenes are played out without a soundtrack, the fight scenes ditch the quick cuts and confusing edits so favoured by directors these days, and, as mentioned above, the action is very much of the fists and feet variety rather than any enormous set piece.

A classic example is the hotel room brawl between Kane and British agent Paul (Michael Fassbender) – a drawn out, brutal exchange that the camera pulls back to reveal in all its glory.

It would also be remiss of me of course not to mention just how enjoyable it is to see a female actor getting the chance to carry a role like this, dishing out the pain in a way we have only really seen Angelina Jolie do in US productions recently.

Where Carano goes from here is anybody’s guess, as it is difficult to tell if she could hold a movie without the appeal of a clutch of famous co-stars.

But as a breakout role this certainly leaves a memorable impression.

 

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.