The one thing I found appealing right away is of course the cast: Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Bill Paxton… and the femme fatale, a real mixed-martial arts fighter Gina Carano. Steven Soderbergh confessed to the Hall H panel at Comic-con that he ‘discovered’ Carano fighting in a cage whilst watching TV on a Saturday night. According to this NY Post article, after he’d been fired from directing the Brad Pitt starrer Moneyball, he said he decided to make ‘an action flick that looked beautiful.’ Upon seeing Carano, he ended up building an entire script based on her.
So was this a good move on Soderbergh part?
After seeing this, my answer is a resounding YES. I like the director’s style in filming this, consistently keeping Mallory Kane, the black ops super soldier [ex-Marine, natch!] as the main focus from start to finish. Right away we find out she’s betrayed by the people who hired her on a mission in Barcelona and the rest of the film follows her hot on the trail to exact her vengeance. Yes, it’s a simple story, this is no twisty espionage thriller so there’s no convoluted plot to deal with. Soderbergh simply creates a vehicle for Carano to be her bad-ass self and it works!
I’ve heard people comparing this to Angelina Jolie’s SALT. Now I haven’t seen that movie and there probably is some similarities, but if these two were to be in a fight together, no doubt Carano would take Jolie’s bony frame down in a matter of seconds. Y’know she made me think that she could practically take down the rest of the Expendables cast, ahah.
The action sequences are the reason to watch this film. It’s done without the overblown fast cuts, or slo-mo or nauseating hand-held style employed by many action directors [just as Ted has pointed out here]. Those are done supposedly to make the sequences look cool but it’s hard to see just what the heck is going on. No, Soderbergh filmed the fight scenes realistically, you could see every punch/blow/kick the characters endure. The most intense one is in the clip shown at Comic-con, involving the Bond-like Michael Fassbender [as an MI-6 agent no less!]. So going in I already knew his fate, ahah. But still that is one kick-ass fight scene, woof!
This is not an *acting* film for everyone involved, especially for Carano who never acted before. That said, Carano acquits herself well as Soderbergh is smart enough not to give her long monologues or complicated emotion to convey. Now of course I wish there’s more character development in play, I wish there was a bit more background on Mallory, but y’know what, there’s a certain appeal to its minimalism. In fact, my hubby said it reminds me of Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le Samouraï in its stark simplicity and pacing. We didn’t really know much about Alain Delon’s Jef Costello either, but it’s still interesting to watch him in his journey.
The star-studded male cast don’t exactly show their range but they’re still fun to watch. They all seem well aware when they signed on that they won’t be given much to do than being the next target of Carano’s vendetta. In the case of Bill Paxton as her author dad, his character is given a bit more emotional weight, but not by much. The ending does seem abrupt but also brilliant at the same time. It ends with an expletive uttered by a character who realizes that his blissful island life with his model girlfriend is about to go um, haywire.
I feel like giving Soderbergh’s other works a watch now. I haven’t seen too many of them, but Out of Sight and Traffic are some of his best films I’ve seen so far. I appreciate his unorthodox style and his effort in experimenting with different genres.
Final Thoughts: Gina Carano certainly makes for a convincing action star whilst still retains her feminine aura. This dynamic action thriller will please any action fans with its high adrenaline-stunts and gritty fight sequences. If you’re a fan of Soderbergh’s other works, this one is definitely worth a watch.
|4 out of 5 reels|
Have you seen this movie? Well, what do you think?