While women have long complained about the limited roles for actresses in movies, tending to range from sexpot and bimbo to doting wife, now along comes Hollywood’s latest response. A new and different array of weird and wicked, with Haywire.
And falling into line behind all those recent many bad mommies and dragon lady slave driver bosses at work, is Steven Soderbergh’s latest down ‘n dirty damsel in distress espionage thriller. An emerging pattern that is beginning to take shape for the director as a suspect fetish, Haywire follows on the stiletto heels of Soderbergh’s recruitment of actual porn star Sasha Grey to sex up Wall Street, as snobby high priced hooker on call to sulking stockbrokers during a sagging economic downturn.
Now Soderbergh serves up yet another ball busting babe armed with a real life resume to take center stage in Haywire, bulked up mixed martial arts star, Gina Carano. Though in the case of Carano’s bone crunching black ops assassin in contrast to Grey’s more subtly calculating moves, let’s just say she doesn’t seem to be particularly faking it.
Carano is Mallory Kane in Haywire, a top notch career mercenary and free lance private contractor recruited between governments and corporations with interactive deadly menace on their conspiratorial minds. And as she negotiates a lethal web of all-male operatives and oligarchs counting Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Ewan McGregor and Michael Fassbender, Mallory senses a setup targeting her the victim as opposed to victor on the payroll this time around.
Not that the audience also need worry about the mind-boggling mystery of it all, that’s never the point. International intrigue aside and what’s really ever going down during these power struggles historically, Soderbergh’s attention is solely focused on perfecting his murders as louder, livelier and more stylishly tasteless freaky fun than the next guy behind a camera.
Now back to the question of more roles for women lately, and there certainly are. But if The Iron Lady, Young Adult, Carnage and now Haywire are any indication – even if occasional collaborations with women filmmakers who are going along to get along – there would seem to be a sort of female chauvinist model emerging. And an opportunity for women to be as aggressive and nasty on screen as any man.
And despite all the one-upmanship gratuitous gore brutally peppering Haywire – though hardly ever messing up a single stroke of Gina’s lip liner – that espionage agent convention may have lost some of its punch, so to speak. And even if on the feisty female side lately. What with its Cold War heyday faded, and the bad press souring contemporary contractor mercenaries linked to US wars and not unrelated extra-legal target assassinations – Hollywood could soon be feeling the crunch too. Ouch.
1 1/2 stars