Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Written by Lem Dobbs
Starring Gina Carano, Michael Fassbender, Michael Douglas, Ewan McGregor, Channing Tatum, Antonio Banderas and Bill Paxton
Formerly ‘the face of Womens MMA’, ranked #3 145lb female MMA fighter in the world and fighting in the octagons of Strikeforce and EliteXC, Gina ‘Conviction’ Carano knows how to kick ass. She also knows how to perform in front of cameras, with a stint as Crush (a gladiator) in American’s version of Gladiators and Fight Girls. In Haywire, she takes her Muay Thai and Mixed Martial Arts experience to aid her in whipping the all star cast in this action-packed thriller.
Gina Carano stars as Mallory Kane, an ex-marine special ops agent, who embarks on a mission with a group of colleagues to free a dissident journalist being held captive in Barcelona. After a successful mission, her boss and ex-lover Kenneth (Ewan McGregor), assigns her to a contract in Dublin with MI6 agent Paul (Michael Fassbender), in a bid to extract information from shady businessman, Studer. The ever cautious Mallory spies on Paul and upon following his footsteps, discovers the body of the journalist she’d previously rescued. With her brooch in the lifeless journalist’s hand, Mallory realises she’s been set up by her own company and must escape alive and find out who’s responsible and the reason she’s been framed.
Whilst there is a complicated story at heart, this is purely a revenge fuelled action flick with lots of details spared. Anyone expecting a hard-core thriller should stop reading now as this is nothing like one. However, I am not dismissing the film as bad. Far from it. If you overlook the ambitious plot and enjoy this film as the actioner it is, then you will thoroughly enjoy yourself. As I mentioned earlier, Gina Carano is a former MMA fighter and the fight scenes involve a mixture of martial arts that any MMA enthusiast will glow about. From the first five minutes, Gina displays some brilliant Japanese Jiu-Jitsu as she then roles into a BJJ armbar submission, breaking Aaron’s (Channing Tatum) arm in the process. Later in the film with her scenes with Paul (Michael Fassbender), she showcases her Muay Thai skills that she is renowned for, with a teep that thrusts Paul through a glass door. Finally, a triangle choke with her legs from an open guard whilst wearing tights causing Paul to go unconscious, well, if that’s not entertaining, I don’t know what is. To add some extra intense flavour to the film are chase scenes, both on foot and in car, which really boost the adrenaline. The director Steven Soderbergh even ensures the scenes are as realistic as possible, showing that Mallory doesn’t always get it right (a deer flying through the car’s rear window and falling from height onto her back, spring to mind).
Whilst this film sports an all star cast to die for and an admired, talented film director to boot, little is done in the way of dialogue or true narrative which makes you question: why? Whilst they perform their parts well, especially Michael Fassbender and a beard-stroking Antonio Banderas, there’s very little character on show. The time we spend with most of the characters, besides Mallory, are brief and they are depicted in a very black and white fashion. The majority of the men are tainted as bad guys with the exception of Mallory’s father, played by the wondeful Bill Paxton, and Scott (Michael Angarano), an innocent teenager who helps Mallory in her quest for the truth. If the characters had been played by unknown actors, then I feel that the film would have suffered greatly. It helps that the big stars here portray characters that are similar to other roles they may have played in other films, such as Michael Douglas as the ’employer’ and Channing Tatum as the not-so-clever henchman. Needless to say they are mere obstacles and the eye is firmly on Carano who carries the film with relative ease. Throwing a fighter in as a lead actress with a stellar cast is a huge risk, but Carano proves she’s more than a pretty face with fists of fire. She convinces in her straight scenes but really comes into her own during the fight scenes. Whether she could handle anything other than an action movie is something that remains to be seen, but the camera seems to like Carano and she seems to enjoy it too.
I enjoyed this movie being an MMA fan and for those into martial arts or action flicks, I would imagine you would too. Do not expect anything clever from the plot and enjoy it for what it is: A beer movie. Watch out if you take the wife to watch Haywire though. She’ll come out of the cinema kicking your ass… especially in the bedroom!
I look forward seeing what Gina Carano has lined up next. Here’s hoping a Bloodsport type film with Cristiane Santos. 😉