Mixed martial arts (MMA) superstar Gina Carano plays the lead and does all her own stunts in Steven Soderbergh’s latest action flick Haywire, which comes off feeling kind of Bourne-lite. In it she is surrounded by a pretty yummy collection of today’s high powered male stars: Antonio Banderas, Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Channing Tatum, even Michael Douglas. And that is the problem with the film. Carano is not an actress, and she really cannot hold her own with the big boys.
The basic story of Haywire is that Mallory is former special forces and now she works for a shady government contractor (Ewan McGregor) doing shady things around the world. She and Tatum are sent to extract a kidnapped Chinese dissident from an apartment in Barcelona, which seems to go just fine. And the next thing you know she is heading to Dublin for a simple job with a British spy played by fully clothed Michael Fassbender. But something went wrong in Barcelona, unbeknownst to Mallory, and before you know it, Mr. British spy is trying to kill her, and she is on the run from everyone on earth. The rest of the film is Mallory running around, fighting with various evil people, and trying to hunt down the various men (there are no other women in this world) who set her up. There is A LOT of fighting, which is good because when she is attempting to act, it falls flatter than flat.
The plot is a convoluted, and I get pretty tired of watching a woman get knocked around by men, even if she can take care of herself and ends up dispatching them one by one. Haywire will certainly not go down as one of Soderbergh’s hits. It isn’t a total miss, but it could use the some of the intelligent plotting of Traffic, or some of the wit of Ocean’s Eleven. Mostly it suffers from the lack of a female star who could make you care that everyone is trying to killer her. I’d say wait to watch this one on an airplane.