Dir: Steven Soderbergh
“You shouldn’t think of her as a woman, that would be a mistake”
Mallory Kane (mixed martial artist Gina Carano) is an operative for a private contractor linked to doing black-ops for the government. However, she’s wanting out, and in her line of work that often means ‘forced retirement’. Think of it a little bit like Bourne… in heels.
Director Steven Soderbergh is often saying his next project will be his last, but in the past two years he’s directed four big feature films, ‘Contagion’, ‘Magic Mike’, ‘Side Effects’ and this. He’s possibly best known for the rebooted ‘Ocean’s’ films 11 to 13, and I think he was partly in the mindset of those when making this.
Firstly the fights are very believable, with Carano making full use of her MMA skills and fighting in no way ladylike, using anything in the room, including the room itself to win a fight. The other strength of the fight sequences is that they start suddenly, using the element of surprise to get the jump on her opponent, and that helps the action a lot. However, the use of music is really unhelpful. The music was composed by the same person as the ‘Ocean’s’ films, and has exactly the same feel, quite smooth jazz, that makes certain scenes that should feel more urgent and tense, actually reminiscent of some crime caper, very light-hearted like ‘Ocean’s Eleven’.
Don’t get me wrong, I love ‘Ocean’s Eleven’, and would happily watch more films like it as I’ve said before I enjoy heists and things like that. However this film is not meant to be like that, the action is far more Bourne or (Daniel Craig’s) Bond. The use of the music just undercuts the impact of a lot of the action, and downplays the intense nature of the storyline.
As for the lead Gina Carano, it’s said in the film that she wouldn’t know how to play ‘eye candy’ or be at home in a dress, and that’s true. Though she scrubs up well in one scene, she’s far more convincing when she’s choking someone or beating Channing Tatum round the head, and that’s just fine with me. Her weakness is when she’s needed for acting with delivering lines, which she does with obvious concentration, as if in her mind she’s just thinking ‘deliver this line… then that line… now pause’. It’s visibly rigid, and shows that she’s not yet at home in front of the camera.
It’s really strange how though the rest of the cast is A-list, with Channing Tatum, Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas and Michael Fassbender, the ‘newbie’ quality of Carano’s acting makes this feel far more like B-movie action directed by someone new to feature films rather than the high-budgeted and star-studded potential ‘swansong’ of an Academy Award winning best director.
Click the poster above for the trailer.