Remember that Howie Long movie called Firestorm? How about Paparazzi, the Mel Gibson-produced Cole Hauser film? Both movies (known as vehicles) were meant to build the leading men as action stars, ready to give the public heroes to cheer for. What they ended up doing, however, was provide awfully formulaic schlock that critics and audiences found uninteresting (a real shame for a guy like Cole). The red carpets and press conferences for the films were so optimistic…
Should’ve been called Misfire
For a new action star to be a success all the right elements have to be in play for their debut; an athletic and/or charismatic leading star, a decent story, a competent director and awesome action. Luckily for former MMA fighter Gina Carano, Haywire has all of this. Gina plays Mallory Kane; an ex Marine turned private contractor and all around badass. She specializes in dirty work and it’s her job to clean up the trash. Two missions into the movie and Mallory finds herself double crossed and on the run, with revenge on her mind. Typical spy plot? Yes. Typical execution? No.
When you think action movie, Steven Soderbergh doesn’t really come to mind. His movies are usually slow moving, bold and clinical. But, not surprisingly, his style works really well for this story. For example, the fight scenes are without music. While some might think that a suspenseful score is required, doing it this way makes us focus much more on the brutal fight choreography. When the music is used, it evokes the feel of a 60’s or 70’s spy thriller, possibly one starring Bruce Lee.
He can do no wrong here.
I think that if another director had done this it would be very generic and boring. The story alone is pretty familiar, but the style gives it new life. Had some hack filmmaker given this a shot, it would feature music from Linkin Park, a former model as the lead, and faster fight scenes that are over the top and predictable. Nothing bold, and with no chances taken. This style is most effective in highlighting the positives of its new leading lady. Gina Carano is at her best when she is pummeling people with her bare fists. Watching her kick Michael Fassbender through glass is both forceful and worthy of the ticket price alone. She can run, she can fight, and she’s sexy – a great combo.
Looks that can, and will kill…
The only negative is her almost robotic line readings. I attribute this more to the character than the actress, as she’s playing a no-nonsense bone breaker. This is where the film’s style helps us out – by exposing us more to Gina’s skills as a fighter than as an “actress”, the movie is really giving her a chance to shine. I just hope that her next films do the same.
Heavy on style, but in the case of a familiar story it is very welcome. An all-star cast getting punched and kicked half to death might just be the perfect endorsement for any new leading lady ever.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: for every kick Gina executes.
Take a Drink: if you think it’s funny that anybody would dare mess with her.
Take a Drink: if you liked the ending as much as I did.