HAYWIRE (Dir. Steven Soderbergh, 2012)
Although I had not seen a trailer or read anything about it going in, I caught on quickly that this film is simply an excuse to string together a series of acrobatic fight scenes showcasing the mixed martial arts skills of Gina Carano.
Thing is, it’s a pretty good excuse.
The plot, something about the CIA trained Carano getting set up and betrayed on a mission, really doesn’t matter, because this movie is all about the kinetic, extremely well choreographed, and superbly shot fight scenes.
Surrounding Carano is a cast of familiar faces: Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Bill Paxton, Channing Tatum, and Michael Fassbender, but I believe had those same roles been played by a bunch of unknowns, it would have the same effect, because, again, it’s all about Carano’s game.
On the run from an international manhunt, Carano hijacks the car of the scruffy Michael Angarano in upstate New York, and she tells him (and us) how she got there, so we get flashbacks of set pieces in opulent settings.
For instance, a hotel suite in Dublin in which Carano and Fassbender have a brutal scuffle; it’s polished violence with class as the couple is outfitted in expensive evening wear.
With its snazzy jazzy soundtrack by frequent Soderberg collaborator David Holmes, HAYWIRE bops along enjoyably from brawl to brawl. It’s a durable diversion especially compared to its competition (*cough* CONTRABAND) in this January dumping ground.
From 1989’s SEX, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE to last year’s CONTAGION, Soderbergh has dabbled in just about every genre (can’t wait for him to tackle Westerns), so why not an espionage revenge thriller with a kick ass hottie, who actually can kick ass in real life?
Here Soderbergh throws his new heroine into the ring with Laura Croft, “The Bride” from KILL BILL, and Lisbeth Salander (either Noomi Rapace or Rooney Mara - it doesn't matter), and by the end of it you’ll be convinced that Carano would be the last one standing.