|'If Sasha Grey was a risk, Gina Carano is positively the casting equivalent of putting your house, car and current shirt on the turn of a roulette wheel.'|
Casting a non-professional actor as his lead is starting to become a habit for Steven Soderbergh, the American director having previously opted for adult film star Sasha Grey in 2009's The Girlfriend Experience. Here, in actioner Haywire, he picks out Mixed Martial Artist Gina Carano as a potential future star. Where Grey could at least boast huge numbers of credits in titles like Slam It! In A Young Whore and Fuck Slaves 3, Carano's filmography is significantly emptier and erm, tamer of content. If Grey was a risk, Carano is positively the casting equivalent of putting your house, car and current shirt on the turn of a roulette wheel.
Again though, following on the largely positive reception for Grey in Girlfriend, Soderbergh has pulled a proper actor out of an improper hat. As agent Mallory Kane, Carano proves to be a sympathetic lead, easy to identify with and follow through the narrative, which feels like a thinly disguised right-of-visitation to the presence of several A-listers. Channing Tatum, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Bill Paxton, Ewan McGregor and Michael Fassbender all crop up at varying points, presumably swayed by the presence of Soderbergh into accepting bit part roles. There's another thing the director returns to even more often than risky lead choices: the significant weight an ensemble cast will lend to even the thinnest of pieces.
To round out the triumvirate of choices from Soderbergh's past, take note of the familiarity of Haywire's score, from David Holmes, which seems to have been lifted directly from the Ocean's films (Holmes took music duties on all three) and fits about as comfortably as a choking leg lock in the middle of the night. On occasions, it does actually lend a bit of class to proceedings but on even more occasions it feels far too much like Soderbergh is trying to cram the forthright action behind the classy gentle-jazz. Not a marriage made in heaven.
Carano and the character clearly are though and her presence keeps you invested as the script goes through its simple turns and movements around genre convention. The A-listers add discernible bulk and one thing not at any sort of risk is Soderbergh's eye, which captures everything - particularly the fights - in a more-than-palatable static and oft-silent gaze, the ultimate antidote to the confusing shaky-cam of his action contemporaries.
Haywire is released on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK on Monday 21st May.
'far from Soderbergh's best or most ambitious film, but it's a pretty great example of a genre picture done right' - The Flick Chick