Haywire ★★★½

Remember those straight-to-video Cynthia Rothrock action movies in the '80s that you occasionally considered renting when Robocop was yet again unavailable? This is basically one of those, but for the art-house set.
As with The Girlfriend Experience, Steven Soderbergh has built a film around a strong, feisty chick that has 'caught his attention'. This time it's a lean, knowingly generic spy thriller, peppered with short, sharp - and comprehensible - fight scenes that show off Gina Carano's mad head-kicking, room-wrecking skillz. General bitching about her acting skillz though have been a bit over-done, I feel. She's no revelation, but gives perfectly adequate performance, and like Sasha Grey in Girlfriend, her blankness works for both the character and the film's style.

Soderbergh makes what could be a straight-forward plot very oblique by withholding information from the audience (until the very end when it is all clumsily blurted out in one go, which only makes you go 'whu??'). But it's clear from the get-go that the plot really doesn't matter - you are just supposed to dig the vibe. With David Holmes' low-key, moody score working perfectly with the classy, glassy textures of the film. It's a good companion piece to The Limey, or Out of Sight, even if it isn't quite an equal to either of those.

In both senses of the word it's a cool film, and more of a nice-looking genre exercise than anything, but it is still satisfying.

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