Twitter Plot Summary: Gina Carano seeks revenge after she’s betrayed on a black ops job.
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Key Cast: Gina Carano, Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Channing Tatum, Michael Angarano, Bill Paxton
Five Point Summary:
1. Five minutes, a billion famous faces.
2. Ewan McGregor and his terrible American accent.
3. Carano and Fassbender duke it out in their hotel room. Rather good.
4. And now “The Revenge” can commence!
5. And now the inevitable twist… aaaand there it is.
Action movies have needed strong female leads for, you know, forever. Okay sure, more recently we’ve had the likes of Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez and Angelina Jolie to fall back on, but they have never strictly speaking been actors who you would assume could hold their own against the men. Oh sure, they might be able to last a little while in a fistfight with a Stallone, a Willis, a Schwarzenegger, or even a Lundgren or a Van Damme (if we drop down a notch in the action hero stakes), but ultimately it will always be one of the guys who wins the fight. Step up Gina Carano, former MMA star and fitness model turned actor to give them older gentlemen a run for their money.
The plot is one we’ve seen before – an effective agent is betrayed on a mission and seeks revenge against those who have plotted against them. The difference here is that the agent in question is Gina Carano as Mallory Kane, a woman liable to snap your neck if you look at her funny, no small talk. Starting with Mallory taking five minutes in a diner, the peace is soon disrupted by the arrival of Channing Tatum, after which we then flash back to earlier events and see what brought them to that point.
A number of big names crop up for roles that vary from extended cameos to more meaty substance. It adds a certain legitimacy to the whole affair, but does however feel that the big names are there to counterbalance the fact Carano wasn’t a huge name outside of MMA circles, and maybe also to counterbalance her generally mediocre acting ability. Yes, in the longstanding tradition of action heroes of time immemorial, Carano is adept at pummelling men repeatedly in the face or spending an inordinate amount of time running from A to B, but lacks anything approaching a personality when it comes to delivering lines of dialogue or emoting. Still, that’s one trope we’re acclimatised to, so that can be ignored and we can just focus on the action.
The fights are nicely gritty, the lack of score and natural sound effects accentuating the violence. In fact if there’s anything to complain about it’s the jazz-light score throughout the rest of the film – in places it works but for the most part it gives the film a needlessly languorous pace. It’s a touch too ponderous for an action thriller, as if it’s trying to be an Ocean’s Eleven style caper rather than a revenge action flick.
Soderbergh is as stylish as ever, bathing scenes in heavy yellow tones, blood reds or cool blues to denote time, location and provide subtle hints regarding character motives. The man is a chameleon when it comes to trying his hand at different genres, although I don’t think thrillers of this ilk are really his forte. Still, it all comes together nicely by the end and, whilst not anything that reinvents the wheel (because that would be silly), it is a competent action film if not without its flaws.
Favourite scene: Carano VS Fassbender in their hotel room.
Quote: “This your idea of relaxing? Wine and gun maintenance?”
Silly Moment: Sprinting down the beach like Sir Lancelot in Month Python and the Holy Grail.