Hollywood is always on the lookout for deadly femme fatales who can give men a run for their action and testosterone. Prolific director Steven Soderbergh's third 2011 release "Haywire" manages this with a film whose story is average, but which he compensates with his neat, slick direction bound to appeal to both men and women.
After a successful European mission, Mallory (Gina Carano) - an ex-marine who does black-ops for a private company, is surprised by her next assignment: of being arm-candy for a British spy. Her suspicion is proven correct as she finds police chasing her for a murder she has not committed. Can a lone woman fight off an entire army of men out to get her?
In Mallroy, director Steven Soderbergh creates a woman on the lines of Jason Bourne, but unlike our amnesic spy, she has no identity crisis. Like most women, she knows exactly who she is and she will break your neck if you try to prove otherwise. For she is dangerous and armed, heck she's more dangerous unarmed. She is a damsel who can rescue a man in distress.
Don't tail her for she knows how to tail you back. She's not unreasonable but if you get unreasonable with her, even He - your masculine god - cannot save you.
"Haywire" is in the mould of modern action thrillers, where unlike films of the past, it is more about throwing good grapples in hand to hand combats than it is about shooting. Even your once 'shaken but not stirred' James Bond now gets his hands dirty in parkour chases and fist fights. So how can the femme fatale of the 21st century be any different?
You thus have Mallroy punch, kick, lock hands and legs of an opponent, crawl under a car, jump over fences and through rooftops...basically doing everything you would never expect a girl like her to do. And therein it breaks stereotypes of women in cinema, never mind that the story and the final obvious mystery is not half as good as the action and direction.
Soderbergh, who has always been a lover of women as evident from his previous films, makes careful efforts to show the superiority of his woman, both moral and physical, in different ways. For instance, Mallroy is never unreasonable and it is always the men who throw the first punch, or coffee, trying to catch her unawares. Her fight then is one of mere self-defence in which she recovers from the initial shock to shock the daylights of her men.
Also Mallroy is not a big talker, like the silent 'male' heroes in the action films of the 1970s. She listens and observes, and when required, kicks or shoots her way out of a jam. She's a doer not a mere talker.
In mixed-martial arts champion Gina Carano, Hollywood might finally have found their first hand-to-hand combatant that will draw in the crowds. All you ladies out there, go hoot for this first female modern martial artist in cinema. For every James Bond or Jason Bourne, you now have a Hanna or Mallory.
Critic: Satyen K. Bordoloi
(3.5 / 5) : Very Good