Film in review: “Haywire”

Gina Carano plays Mallory, an ex-Marine who agrees to be a contractor for an international search and rescue mission: go in and snatch a hostage held by terrorists, get out, collect the reward. Work with a team of trained specialists. Should be simple, right?

Of course not. Nothing goes as planned. Somebody has tipped off the terrorists, and they have set a trap for the “rescue” team. Mallory barely escapes, but now she has to try to find out who betrayed her, all the while dodging her pursuers, and, when necessary, summarily dispatching them.

The rumor mill insists that Ms. Carano instructed her fellow actors to not look up when she was choreographing the martial arts scenes, because she was going to ”miss” close, to make it as realistic as she could. At least one of them failed to listen, and had to seek medical treatment. It’s the kind of perhaps apocryphal story that lends credibility to the whole “female James Bond” persona here – except Mallory’s not sure she wants to work for her government. Because here the only ones she can trust are herself and her ex-Marine dad.

OK, so the action sequences are convincing, but do we have any real acting here? Oscar-winning Director Steven Soderberg has enough Hollywood pull to attract some very strong secondary actors: Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Channing Tatum – all of whom have been leading men in their own right. And their participation lends some strong credibility to this rough-edged tale of clandestine operations and spy ring infiltrators and oily deceivers and violent double agents. The complaint about the storytelling is that it utilizes both a flashback method and “real-time” scenarios, and half the time the viewer’s not sure what, exactly, is transpiring. That’s supposed to reflect the circumstance of the main character, but it makes for choppy suspensions of disbelief. Those who desire linear storytelling are going to be a bit frustrated. So in more ways than one, fasten your seat belts: It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Ronald P. Salfen is interim pastor of St. Stephen’s Presbyterians Church in Irving, Texas.

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