‘Haywire’: Make way for Gina Carano

THE LAST nine months have been auspicious for women in Hollywood.

First "Bridesmaids" broke the crass ceiling for women in comedy, and now "Haywire" establishes Gina Carano as the screen's most convincing action star.

Two things you notice about Carano on screen - her lovely brown eyes and her neck.

The latter looks like something borrowed from an NFL linebacker, although it looks a thousand times better on Carano (she came by it as a former mixed martial arts champ).

The camera loves her, that's the good news. The other news, maybe not so good: Put this lass on screen with just about any of Hollywood's current crop of tiny leading men, and you've got a mismatch.

No responsible athletic commission would sanction a fight between Carano and any of her co-stars in "Haywire," with the possible exception of Channing Tatum, whose arm she breaks in the first five minutes.

You watch that, and you start to feel really bad for Ewan McGregor and Michael Fassbender - they play a couple of spies in the gauntlet of agents Carano must run to restore her good name after a spy mission goes wrong.

Fassbender is a fine actor, and is coming off a tremendous four-movie year, but as Irishmen go, he's not exactly Victor McLaughlin.

You just know that Carano will crack him like a walnut.

And McGregor?

If you're going to put somebody from the U.K. up against Carano, it'd better be Jason Statham. (There, I've just given you the plot for "Expendables 3.")

Now, about Carano's style - it's athletic, compact, powerful. If she were dancer, she'd be more Gene Kelly than Fred Astaire.

Speaking of Astaire, director Steven Soderbergh stages a funny "Royal Wedding" bit wherein Carano uses a wall for leverage, walking up as she uses her arms to strangle a guy. And in one mischievous scene, she turns a sexually suggestive position into a death grip.

The fighting that we see is great, but there needs to be WAY more of it in "Haywire," which is five minutes of Carano fighting, 85 minutes of half-baked espionage plotting that nobody, not writer Lem Dobbs or Soderbergh, seems to care much about.

If I were them, I'd be careful.

If this girl ever becomes a diva, watch out.

Produced by Gregory Jacobs, directed by Steven Soderbergh, written by Lem Dobbs.


Directed by Steven Soderbergh. With Gina Carano, Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Julian Alcaraz, Mathieu Kassovitz, Michael Fassbender, Michael Angarano, Bill Paxton, Channing Tatum. Distributed by Relativity Media.

Running time: 1 hours, 33 minutes.

Parent's guide: R (for some violence).