Review: Haywire (15) ****

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Haywire begins as it means to go on: with a teeth-rattling scrap between heroine Mallory Kane (Gina Carano) and a bigger male opponent in a quiet American diner.

There is little that is new about Haywire. Coming from Steven Soderbergh, we are indulged with a sleek, star-packed action thriller in which the macho tomfoolery of the Bourne franchise is very much evident. The difference is that the agent is a woman.

And what a woman. Mallory joins that long list of hard-done-by agents, soldiers and government spooks who are set up and betrayed by their masters. Yet Soderbergh’s regular collaborator, screenwriter, Lem Dobbs opts for a rather more intelligent rendering of the timeworn tale. Thus Haywire emerges as a pacy, energetic actioner. It possesses a degree of painful, bone-crunching realism that is so often missing from similar efforts. Carano makes for a plausible soldier as she battles through a succession of modern mercenaries, watched over always by a high-powered supporting cast that includes Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas and Bill Paxton.

Man of the moment Michael Fassbender pops up as another agent and there is some quality time for Channing Tatum. But, what’s this? Ewan McGregor as double-crossing boss and principal villain? Sadly, no. McGregor is the weakest aspect of the film and badly miscast.

The Bourne films and Matt Damon wholly re-invented this style of movie. The trick in Haywire is that Mallory is the match of any of her pursuers. She’s a thrilling, high-kicking, furious fisted, fast-moving ball of violence and anger.