Directed by Steven Soderbergh. Starring Gina Carano, Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas, Michael Fassbender, Antonio Banderas, Channing Tatum, Bill Paxton.
The film displays some impressive action scenes but after it all you wonder if it isn’t more smoke and shadows than meat and bones.
The lead actress Gina Carano is a Mixed Martial Arts champion and American Gladiator. Steven Soderbergh is an award-winning director of several great films (Sex, Lies and Videotape, Erin Brockovich, Traffic, Oceans Eleven series, Good Night, And Good Luck, Michael Clayton). The rest of the cast are all talented, veteran actors, with the exception of Channing Tatum of course, who may never assume even the title of ‘actor’ but we’ll excuse him for his pretty face and hot body.
Gina Carano has in fact done a film before this called Blood and Bone (so this is just her big film debut as the lead). From the get go director Soderbergh puts her skills to use with a fight scene in an American diner. She whips Channing Tatum’s ass and then with the help of a ‘young punk’ and his Mitsubishi gets away and relates her story to him: that she’s a privately contracted secret agent working for a guy called Kenneth (Ewan McGregor) and worked on a rescue op in Barcelona but was subsequently betrayed, framed and put on a hit list. So the first half of the film is in flashback.
And some pretty impressive flashback it is. Intercutting between her mission and scenes with Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas and Ewan McGregor discussing details of… well something we’re not quite sure of, the film shows us Mallory Kane’s (Carano) super hero strength as she runs down kidnappers and beats them to a pulp and jumps rooftops in between fending off hefty Spanish policemen. Underestimated by the hired gun played by Michael Fassbender, Mallory proceeds to make mincemeat out of him finally chocking him to unconsciousness between her ravishing legs and then putting a bullet through his head. She’s like the female Rambo, Rocky and James Bond. The fight scenes are pretty real, with no background score, so you can hear actual thumps, thuds, shattering and grunts.
While for the first bit you wonder what is going on, you do realise that she has been double crossed. The why of it all is pretty trivial. I got the impression that this was more a platform to display Carano’s fighting skills. She’s not bad as a novice actor. The whole angle with her father (Bill Paxton) seems a bit forced in there and her ‘revenge’ isn’t delivered with shock and awe. In fact the final scene where she confronts one of her betrayers is even a funny.