Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter Gina Carano takes the lead in the action thriller Haywire, which features a starry cast including Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Antonio Banderas, Bill Paxton, Michael Douglas and Channing Tatum in support.
Haywire follows Mallory Kane (Carano), a black ops specialist often hired for covert missions around the world. At the start of the film, she meets with fellow operative Aaron (Tatum) in a diner, before fighting with him, and escaping with a stranger who helps her out. As she drives away with him, she explains what has led to her current situation. The film, which uses a non-linear narrative structure, shows these prior events in flashbacks.
Her handler Kenneth (McGregor) hired her for a job in Barcelona, where she worked alongside Aaron to free a Chinese hostage called Jiang. After this mission she had planned to take a break, but Kenneth asked her to go to Dublin at short notice, to work with MI6 agent Paul (Fassbender). Kane finds Jiang dead in Dublin and then Paul tries to kill her when they go back to their hotel room. She is pursued across the city, with chase scenes through the streets, buildings, and across the rooftops, before she escapes to New York, where we found her in the film’s opening scenes.
Realising she has been double-crossed and there are few people she can trust, she then flees to New Mexico to see her ex-marine father (Paxton). She knows that those hunting her will look for her there and attempts to catch them off guard and ultimately exact her revenge on the people who betrayed her.
Directed by Steven Soderbergh (Contagion, Traffic, Ocean’s Eleven), Haywire was written by Lem Dobbs, who wrote the 1999 crime drama The Limey, which was also directed by Soderbergh. Another of his collaborators, David Holmes (who was the composer on the Ocean’s trilogy), provides the score for the film.
Haywire has some great action set pieces, with fight scenes that feel authentic due to Carano’s obvious skills, which make her character seem like the real deal. She was hand-picked for the lead role by Soderbergh, who was impressed by her physical power and fighting skills, and she did almost all of her own stunts in the film. Mallory Kane is a tough female character who definitely shouldn’t be underestimated. As her handler says in the film: “Don’t think of her as a woman, that would be a mistake.” The no-frills fight scenes are unhurried and enjoyable. They are free of music and sound effects, instead using the natural sounds of kicks and punches, which enhances the action. Although the story isn’t wholly engaging and satisfying, the fights and chases should hold the viewer’s attention. The strong ensemble cast includes several A-list actors, whose appearances throughout the film also provide an extra boost.
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