Haywire (2011)

Posted in Reviews by - June 08, 2012
Haywire (2011)

Soderbergh brings his A game to exploitation cinema, using the martial art genre’s most prevalent, post-modern vice: the femme fatale. Cage fighter Gina Carano lands a blessed debut vehicle with the full support of Soderbergh’s star-studded cast (Douglas as a stoic governmental suit; McGregor as the chair of a US private hire assassins’ corp; Banderas a Spanish ringleader; Fassbender a deadly hitman), but the attractions are mere shrapnel to Carano’s explosive, head-crunching physicality. Playing ex-Marine Mallory Kane, she is a highly skilled, fist-fighting operative forced to clear her name when a top-secret assignment to rescue a kidnapped Chinese dissident turns out to be a trap. In true Soderbergh style, locations jump from New York to Barcelona to Dublin and back again, but there is little time for sight-seeing. His sassy direction is punctuated by some particularly violent, realistic acts of brutality delivered with bone-breaking aplomb by Carano, who simply couldn’t have asked for a better platform. “Don’t think of her as a woman,” says McGregor’s hapless, stuffy pen-pusher, “That would be a mistake.” Immediate western reference points include Joe Wright’s Hanna or Tarantino’s Kill Bill, although this is a far more visceral action film. Fan favourites like Cynthia Rothrock were laying the groundwork for this sort of thing back in the 1980s. Carano could well be our modern equivalent.

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Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a laptop in London, UK.

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