Time to hail a new action queen as mixed martial arts star Gina Carano blitzes the big screen in this supercool thriller from director Steven Soderbergh. She plays Mallory Kane, a government-trained assassin who goes on a personal mission after being set up during a black ops operation. Dropped into a powderkeg of conspiracy and revenge, Carano holds her own amidst a heavyweight cast including Michael Fassbender, Channing Tatum, Ewan McGregor, Antonio Banderas and Michael Douglas. You go, girl!
So it's no surprise that this showcase for professional kick-ass Gina Carano is slick, punchy, and cooler than George Clooney's Smeg. It's like GQ Magazine made flesh.
As a private contractor in the 'global security' business, Carano's Mallory Kane is sent to Barcelona to free a kidnapped Chinese journalist on a mission set up by a Washington string-puller (Douglas), his Spanish counterpart (Banderas), and her boss and ex-lover Kenneth (McGregor).
Soon after, Kenneth asks her to partner a suave MI5 agent (Fassbender) in Dublin in an attempt to flush out a shady Frenchman (Mathieu Kassovitz).
The mundane job takes a turn for the interesting when she finds the aforementioned Chinese murdered. Suddenly, everyone's playing "kill the scapegoat"... and she's it.
Keeping up? No matter, because Mallory is drilling her story into a terrified teenager (Michael Angarano) whose car she has commandeered in snowy upstate New York following an unhappy reunion with one of her old Barcelona teammates (Channing Tatum).
The most sensible option would be to make like Mulder and trust no one. Except, maybe, her dear old soldier-turned-author dad (Bill Paxton) who hides out in his wilderness home like an all-American Andy McNab.
While Carano busts heads aplenty - most impressively while taking a couple of armed Irish Garda to the (dry) cleaners and showing Fassbender who's boss in the bedroom (forget Shame, here's your cure for sex addiction) - Haywire never runs amok.
There's nothing wildly original about screenwriter Lem Dobbs' plot, but it offers some good hiding places for Soderbergh to spring his surprises. Like Cato in the Clouseau movies, the action comes out of nowhere.
From Run Lola Run-style foot pursuits to one of the longest car-reversing scenes in history, even the chase sequences are unpredictable. The greatest revelation, however, is Carano.
Physically, her casting was a no-brainer. But where so many sporting champs turn out to be dramatic chumps, this is a supremely confident debut from a talent who packs charisma like her punches. She'll go far.
It helps that her more experienced co-stars are so generous in support. Given their refusal to chew scenery, the smattering of interesting locations, and David Holmes' smooth score, Haywire is as laid-back as action flicks get.