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Wired for Ass-Kicking

An MMA fighter leads a cast of stars in Steven Soderbergh's action movie

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There are plenty of dramatically realistic fight scenes in Steven Soderbergh's star-packed, globe-crossing action flick Haywire, especially a hand-to-hand bout between MMA-fighter-turned-actress Gina Carano -- who plays Mallory Kane, a stunningly beautiful and skilled operative on a single-woman mission for revenge once her private-security firm double-crosses her -- and an MI6 spook.

But the plot is transparent and predictable. Even as her mission and life are flipped inside out, Mallory remains composed in her spree of vengeance against a range of high-level, if never fully fleshed-out players, including Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Channing Tatum, and Ewan McGregor.

At times Haywire recalls the slick, pretty, and bouncy aesthetics of Soderbergh's Oceans movies but with none of the cerebral payoffs. The director's take on the spy-action movie, laced with homages to Hitchcock and others, is carried along by Carano's pows, bams, and whams. If Haywire seems to move along briskly between the bouts and blows, it's mostly because there's nothing substantial there. --Vince Grzegorek

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