So last night, I had the pleasure of going to an advanced screening of Steven Soderbergh’s action thriller Haywire followed by a Q&A with its lovely star Gina Carano.
For those who’ve never heard of Carano, it's because this is her first starring role in a feature film. She is primarily an MMA fighter for Strike Force and had a brief stint on NBC’s revival of American Gladiators. Soderbergh handpicked Carano for this project and built Haywire around her, along with an impressive cast that includes Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, and Bill Paxton.
Oh yeah, and Channing Tatum and Michael Angarano are in this film as well. Random.
Anyway, onto the film.
As the film's two trailers have told us, Carano plays Mallory Kane, a board certified badass operative who works for a black ops contractor that does those dirty jobs the US can always disavow if they go south. This agency is headed by a slippery guy named Kenneth (McGregor), who is Carano’s boss.
But the agency stabs Carano in the back and tries to kill her on what seemed like a dull-as-dishwater job. So now she is left with no choice but to kick ass, take names, and find out why she was betrayed. The movie itself is not very long, clocking in at around 93 minutes.
The plot itself was rather straight forward without too many frills. It wasn't bad, but at times it felt a bit bone-dry. But that wasn’t the main draw of the movie.
As for the fight scenes. Those were topnotch. What made each fight great was that Carano, being a trained fighter, and whoever she was facing made them look very real and unique. Not once did any of Haywire's fights feel over the top or too technically perfect like what is seen in far too many action films nowadays.
And interestingly enough, for the majority of most of Haywire’s fight scenes, there were no stuntpeople, which made them again more convincing. My personal favorite was the one that was featured heavily in both trailers with Michael Fassbender’s character. It was a nasty, knockdown, drag-out brawl between two trained assassins, and it rocked.
And finally, Gina Carano. For a first time lead, she handled herself very well. Her character was not a chatty wordinista, which was a smart thing. The film played to her strengths, but at the same time, never made her look invincible. The audience I was with especially appreciated each fight and reacted positively to anything Carano did in a fight. And on a shallow note, Carano looks great on screen in my opinion. In short, if you’re looking for a lean and fun escapist action flick during the No Man’s Land that is the first quarter of the year, I’d check out Haywire.
The Q&A lasted just under half an hour with Attack the Show’s Blair Butler starting things off with MMA-related questions. Then the screening’s host Jeff Goldsmith asked the film related questions. During the audience questions, there was of course some douche who asked Carano to marry him. People seriously still do that?
Gina Carano looks even better in person and aside from being rather shy on stage, is extremely humble about the opportunity to star with such an amazing cast. Carano spoke about how after an impressive winning streak in Strike Force a few years back, she had lost to fellow female MMA fighter Cristane “The Cyborg” Santos.
A day or two after the loss was when Steven Sderbergh wanted to meet with Carano, who hilariously had no clue who Soderbergh was. After a four-hour lunch in San Diego, where Carano was sporting a shiner from her fight with Santos, Soderbergh offered her the role.
During the Q&A Carano confirmed a suspicion of mine about how all the actors whom she had fight scenes with did most of their own stunts.
Here’s hoping that this film is just the beginning of a potential action movie career for Carano.