Move aside Megan Fox, because here comes a real woman! Gina Carano, who plays the head locking, kickboxing, choke holding mercenary Mallory Kane, in spy thriller Haywire, is like a roundhouse kick to the gut when it comes to breaking Hollywood female lead stereotypes.
A former MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fighter elegantly carrying a 5’8’’ frame with the toned curves of a muscle car and armed with a sly smile, she is both sexy and menacing, exuding all sorts of femme fatality.
Indie film director, Steven Soderbergh (Traffic), who directed porn star Sasha Grey in 2008’s The Girlfriend Experience, is clearly no stranger to experimental casting choices. But Gina Carano aside, Haywire features a seasoned and star-studded cast that performs well, thanks in part to a very good script, which has enough espionage and intrigue to make a watchable film out of the tired “framed spy” genre.
In between fantastic and realistically choreographed martial arts sequences and dozens of narrative twists (including a fair amount of flashbacks), the film tells the tale of operative Mallory Kane, freelance employee of a private American security firm (Read: Blackwater), that is run by her ex-boyfriend Kenneth (Ewan McGregor). After government official Coblenz (Michael Douglas) and his associate Rodrigo (Antonia Banderas) use the security firm to successfully perform a rescue operation in Barcelona, Mallory is asked by Kenneth to perform one final mission, this time in Dublin, going in undercover as the spouse of a British agent (Michael Fassbender). Unfortunately for Mallory, her swansong doesn’t go quite as she expected, and she finds herself the victim of a setup. The rest of the movie, shot on some gorgeous looking exotic locales, has her attempting to clear her name, until she eventually ends up at the cottage of her father, John Kane (Bill Paxton), as she dodges government agents, cops, as well as her love interest, fellow operative Aaron (Channing Tatum).
Haywire also features a stimulating jazzy musical score very reminiscent of Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon, and is thankfully free of the overbearing post-production effects that shatter suspension of disbelief in most films of this kind. Compared to another recently released espionage thriller, the high flying Ghost Protocol, this ‘meat and potatoes’ film body slams the genre back down to earth.
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, January 29th, 2012.
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