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Review: Haywire

The world of espionage has changed, it is now mostly ran by private contracting firms. Firms about liability clauses and the money that comes from ignoring due diligence. Along with that sort of money comes smarmy bosses like Kenneth (a despicable Ewan McGregor). Mallory Kane (Gina Carano) is tired of Kenneth, his jealousy, his lackeys and his poor work ethic. Trust is a valuable commodity in her field and trust, it seems, is in short supply. So Mallory is getting out for good, or so she thinks.

The spy film has worn the tread off its tires with all the franchises based around the intelligence service over the years. Between James Bond, Jason Bourne, Ethan Hunt and several other one-offs, there really isn't a lot of room left to surprise us. Given Steven Soderbergh's knack for adding style and flair to even the most moth-balled of genres, Haywire succeeds in providing thrills.

Telling Mallory's story in separate pieces keeps the audience from predicting too much of what comes ahead, but we all know this much: hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. And this woman fights; she does it because it is honest. Brutally honest. You can't fake your way through a fight and that is what Mallory has to her advantage: you can't lie or cheat your way to winning.

Soderbergh's capturing of fight sequences in Haywire is a sight to be seen. Every punch thrown sends the viewer back into his/her seat. The director doesn't cut away from the action and in doing so conveys what few action films do: raw intensity. Most fights are edited in such a way that the combat itself is lost, Soderbergh lets everything play out in front of your eyes.

For all of the authenticity the fight sequences are captured, Soderbergh also utilizes stylistic flourishes with black and white sequences, jazzy scores and excellent use of sound editing. The sound mixing leaves every bone-crunching blow, solidly connected kick, and broken vase felt. Mallory Kane is the best at what she does and what she does is kick ass.

Featuring an Ocean's 11-level assemblage of stars like Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Antonio Banderas and Michael Douglas, Haywire's cast fires on all cylinders. Fassbender is fun to watch as alwaysso much in fact it is sad to see him go. But as fun as the co-stars are, this film is Carano's to lose and she ensnares the audience with each onscreen duel. One hopes for more features for Mallory Kane and Company though; betrayal has never been this much fun.

***1/2 out of ****

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