The opening scene in Haywire gets the heart racing with an unexpected violent brawl—and it never lets up. Mallory Kane, a female covert ops specialist, is on the run and recounts her harrowing week to a chivalrous stranger. In flashbacks, Kane, played by mixed martial arts champion Gina Carano, is seen leading two dangerous assignments overseas before being double-crossed. To discover the truth, protect her family and clear her name she heads back home. Steven Soderbergh direct the action across several continents (making for an easy Bourne comparison) and nimble, artsy editing makes it easy on the eyes.
As Soderbergh’s proved before, with films like Erin Brockovich and Out of Sight, he excels when presenting strong female characters. Writer Lem Dobbs keeps the dialogue sparse, leaving stunt coordinator R.A. Rondell and choreographer J.J. Perry to showcase thrilling the hand-to-hand combat and tense chase scenes. The battles feel real, as opposed the special effect laden productions you’re likely to find in the rest of the movies currently in theaters.
Watching Kane outwit and outmatch everyone in her path, even her own father, never gets boring. One adversary warns, “Don’t think of her as being a woman, that would be a mistake,” but she’s no robot. The character cares for people and shows emotion thanks to Carano’s brilliant debut and a supporting cast of A-listers including Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas, and Bill Paxton. Clever, fun, and surprising, if not exactly memorable, you’ll walk out energized, and like many characters in the film, wondering just what hit you.
REEL FASHION: Shoshana Rubin, adept at costuming the vigorous women on television’s Rizzoli & Isles, keeps Carano’s style mobile and battle-ready, even in a gorgeous black evening dress.