By my estimation, Steven Soderbergh is one of the greatest directors working today, but his 2011 film “Haywire” somehow managed to fly under the radar. The film stars former mixed martial arts artist Gina Carano, who at one point had a promising career before her political comments essentially tanked it. It’s too bad, because Carano could have been the female action star we’d been waiting for. She plays Mallory Kane, a black ops agent double-crossed by her government and forced to go on the run. Trust no one, shoot first, and talk later, right?
As a physical performer, Carano is incredibly powerful and all of the stunts -– which she handled herself -– look effortless. It’s very much a martial arts film rather than a goofy action flick, and Soderbergh wastes no time on extraneous dialogue. That doesn’t mean Carano is totally on her own, however, as the film has an unexpectedly stacked supporting cast: Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Bill Paxton, Antonio Banderas, and Michael Douglas.
The plot, frankly, is irrelevant, but with such great action and so talented a cast, this doesn’t matter. “Haywire” is also tightly edited — no surprise there, as Soderbergh always edits his movies himself –- and shot more like an arthouse drama than an action flick at times, giving it a unique look.