As the story goes, when director Steven Soderbergh was watching “American Gladiators” on television one evening, during a bout of women’s mixed martial arts fighting, he was so impressed by 29 year-old, raven-haired Gina Carano that he decided to develop a grim revenge thriller with screenwriter Lem Dobbs (“The Limey), casting Carano as a globetrotting lethal operative.
Introduced in a prologue at a rural roadside diner in snowy upstate New York where she has a confrontation with Aaron (Channing Tatum), another hired assassin, Mallory Kane (Carano) is a freelance black-ops who seeks vengeance when she realizes that those whom she has trusted have double-crossed her, placing her life in jeopardy. Working for a shadowy, private sector agency run by her nerdy ex-boyfriend, Kenneth (Ewan McGregor), she’s sought after by a high-placed government operative named Coblenz (Michael Douglas). A specialist in international intrigue, Mallory’s previous covert assignment – to rescue a kidnapped Chinese dissident held hostage in Barcelona – went terribly wrong, as she relates to Scott (Michael Angarano), whose car she’s hijacked. Revealed in a flashback, that fiasco is somehow connected with a brawl in a Dublin hotel, where Mallory and a suspicious client, Kenneth (Michael Fassbender), decimate the furniture. So now, Mallory Kane is paranoid. Basically, the only person she trusts is her ex-Marine-turned-fiction writer dad (Bill Paxton), living in New Mexico.
Although she has yet to develop her acting talent, certainly tough, strong Gina Carano’s physical presence puts her in a kick-ass warrior category with Uma Thurman (“Kill Bill”) and Angelina Jolie (“Lara Croft: Tomb Raider,” “Salt”). So instead of emoting, Carano excels in an inordinate number of action-packed street/alley chase sequences in which Soderbergh stylishly photographs Carano sprinting from a myriad of angles. Soderbergh has done this before, like when he cast porn star Sasha Grey as a New York call girl in “The Girlfriend Experience.” Yet it’s too bad there’s not even a shred of humor.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Haywire” is a fierce, ferocious 5, filled with relentless, kinetic, if senseless, violent mayhem.