Review: Haywire (15) ****

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.

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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.