nless you follow Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighting, you've probably never heard of Gina Carano. She's a prominent Muay Thai boxer with an impressive 12-1-1 record. Long story short, this girl can kick some butt for real! Can she act though? Director Steven Soderbergh (Contagio
n, the Oceans
movies) thought enough of her to cast her as the lead character Mallory in his latest action thriller Haywire
If you've seen the trailer for Haywire, you might be like me and think that it looks exactly like The Bourne Identity if Matt Damon was a hot chick. That's pretty much what this movie is, except the character Mallory doesn't have amnesia and Gina Carano is a legitimate bad ass (not just an actor playing one). The fact that Gina comes from a MMA background, gives all of the fighting scenes in the movie (of which there are many), a very authentic feel. I wouldn't be surprised if some of her fellow cast members sustained injuries sharing scenes with her. Gina physically punishes her co-stars and also holds her own against them in the acting arena.
If Haywire was just a plotless fight fest, carried solely on Gina’s acting chops, I probably wouldn't be heaping praise on her debut performance. Fortunately for her, Haywire has an intriguing story line linking the action together, and also some cool scenes by a star studded cast: Channing Tatum, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, and Bill Paxton just to name a few. Everyone gave good performances, particularly Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class, Inglorius Bastards) who is featured prominently in the trailer.
Haywire starts about 2/3rds of the way through the overall story. Most of this movie is a flashback bringing you up to speed to Mallory's current situation, with periodic flash-fowards to update the audience with the latest in her current predicament. Once the backstory is told, the movie finishes out to its conclusion in a linear fashion. This unique style of storytelling adds to the appeal of the movie.
Big name stars and intriguing story line aside, the main draw of this movie are the fight scenes. The combination of Steven Soderbergh's camera direction and Gina Carano's fluid grappling and striking techniques make every action sequence hit hard. What I really liked is that the fights weren't over choreographed with elaborate attacks or overly dramatic finishing moves. There were a few Jackie Chan-esque vaulting kicks, but for the most part what Gina does on screen is what she does in her MMA fights. I'm talking about Muay Thai kicks from the hip, Royce Gracie Brazilian Jiu Jitsu leg lock submission moves, and good ole fashion pummeling of the face whilst straddling the chest. Booya!
This is a good movie; it isn't the greatest action thriller of all time, but it is definitely worth the price of admission. It also has all of the makings of an action franchise, after all, if they can make Taken 2 with Liam Neeson (seriously, they're making Taken 2), then you can expect Haywire 2 sometime in the near future. If they do decide to franchise Haywire, count on me to buy a ticket.
Haywire (Rated R)
Gavin Grade: B