Inside Pulse » Gina Carano A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Fri, 25 Jul 2014 18:14:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Inside Pulse no A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Inside Pulse » Gina Carano Fast & Furious 6 – Review Fri, 24 May 2013 02:00:09 +0000
Suspend disbelief and enjoy the ride

When the sixth installment of Universal’s premiere franchise faded to black I turned to the critic next to me and told him this entire series is a great guilty pleasure. To which he promptly responded, “I’m not guilty about anything. I love these movies.” As I considered that for a moment, he was on to something. Fast & Furious has moved way beyond the point of being something to feel guilty about liking – in which one box office surprise went on to become one of the biggest action-oriented franchises of all-time – to something to passionately embrace (if you are fan) while still being able to see beyond its surface-level flaws. Where most studios may turn one success into a trilogy, this has become a twelve-year odyssey, which has evolved way beyond its original concept.

What started out as a unique idea about the bonds made through street racing has remodeled itself to be an action-adventure series where the idea of family and keeping it together through incredible odds, obstacles and obvious speeding violations is paramount. It also has a western mentality where the principal stars become outlaws, having to flee their homeland (the US) to avoid apprehension. Along the way alliances are made and a posse emerges. Full of distinct personalities, they are overall led by Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), a cue ball street racer who lives his life by a quarter of a mile, but values family and loyalty over any lucrative score.

Taking its B-movie title, The Fast and the Furious, and running with it to the nth degree, we now arrive with the fifth sequel, Furious 6 (this is according to the title card at the end of the opening credits). If you’ve stuck with the series since the beginning then your ticket purchase is all but assured.

To be honest, I’ve got to tip my hat – if I was wearing one – to the team of director Justin Lin and screenwriter Chris Morgan. Lin came on board at the wrong time and directed the Halloween III entry in the series (read: Where the hell are Vin Diesel and Paul Walker?) with The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. This is the sequel that is mostly forgotten, making it the redheaded stepchild of the bunch. But together they made it work; the three entries prior to Lin’s arrival have been included in the sequels in some shape or fashion.    

Rather than push Lin out and go through a revolving door of directors with sequels 4, 5 and now 6, studio Universal has let Lin shepherd the series and see it move in such a rising upswing it would make the workers on Wall Street lightheaded. Instead of the series getting progressively worse, as is the case with most franchises, Lin has managed to completely fine-tune it from original models and spare parts to create one of the best testosterone-filled action movie franchises going today. It’s just a shame that Universal is too eager to strike while the iron is hot for the seventh entry (yes, Diesel and Co. haven’t ridden into the sunset just yet), which is slated to arrive in July 2014. Justin Lin is out and now James Wan (Saw, Insidious) is in the driver’s seat.

In Fast Five, which could be best classified as “The Avengers of the F&F franchise” in terms of how Lin effortlessly brings everything together, Dwayne Johnson came on board as Luke Hobbs, an international law enforcer that has been chasing after Toretto and his criminal posse. Ditching street racing in favor of a gigantic caper movie helped in redefining the series, making it a globetrotting adventure of vehicular mayhem. By the end of that film, Dom, Brian O’Conner (Walker), and the rest of the crew – his wife Mia (Jordana Brewster) who is also Dom’s sister, Elena Neves (Elsa Pataky), Gisele (Gal Gadot), Han “Seoul-Oh” (Sung Kang), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Ludacris) – are living comfortably after doing one last job. But then Hobbs comes back into their lives with a partner in tow, Riley (Haywire’s and ex-MMA starlet Gina Carano), in need of his team’s assistance in apprehending Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), an ex-British special operative, now master thief. To give Dom a reason to care Hobbs shows him some photos of Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez), Dominic’s lost, believed-dead (if you saw Fast & Furious – #4 in the series) ladylove.

Okay, so Furious 6 operates like a soap opera with Letty’s death and mysterious reappearance. Going with that notion, the film pushes the envelope in wanting you to suspend disbelief when it comes to people and car physics. But Justin Lin is so surefooted that he has total self-awareness of the characters, their motivations and making us believe the impossible to be possible. Chris Morgan’s screenplay is generally ridiculous, full of quips and crack wise, and gives off the appearance that the characters may truly be a B-level class of Avengers (one of them is even identified with the nickname “Samoan Thor” at one point) – totally indestructible.

The film has a good rhythm throughout with a quick set-up leading to the band getting back together, before having everything go over-the-top with explosions, flipping cars and more harebrained shenanigans. The interplay of character moments and crazy stunts allows the audience to decompress before moving on to the next, oh-they’re-not-going-to-do-what-I-think-they’re-going-to-do stunt. To later learn that Lin spent the better part of four years conceptualizing a particular action sequence that appeared in Furious 6, I’m that much more impressed with him as director. Lin went from a great directing debut with Better Luck Tomorrow to becoming a filmmaker that became very good at shooting action scenes, be they car chases or catfights (Furious 6 contains both).

It’s hard to decide on why this series works as well as it does. A large part has to do with Vin Diesel. He definitely has screen presence, but it only seems to serve him in films like this and as the character Riddick in Pitch Black, The Chronicles of Riddick and the upcoming Riddick. Flying solo his film output is mostly miss compared to hit. The Paul Walker experiment with 2 Fast 2 Furious was, um, interesting, but this is definitely Diesel’s franchise. It revolves around him, and because his zeal for family and togetherness he makes us care for those around him that much more.

There are moments where I got caught up in the action, almost wanting to deliver fist pumps in the air with admiration. As impressive as the action is in Iron Man 3 this is better. While the final sequence is highly improbable, it is so well staged that it’s best to just go with it and enjoy it for what it is. It may not rival towing a gigantic vault through Rio De Janiero in Fast Five, but it has the right bit of tension that a lesser action director would fail to achieve.

With the right mix of emotional beats and impressive set pieces and stunt work, Furious 6 delivers in spades. It may not match the previous sequel, but filmgoers will walk out with good vibes for what the future holds in store (stay and watch the mid-credits tease that will most assuredly have audiences going bonkers).

Justin Lin
Writer: Chris Morgan
Notable Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Luke Evans, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Sung Kang, Gina Carano, Elsa Pataky, Gal Gadot, Ludacris×120.jpg

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First Look Extended – Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Classes Up Fast & Furious 6 Extended Trailer, New Stills Mon, 11 Feb 2013 02:00:01 +0000 The latest trailer, as well as a handful of stills, have been released for the upcoming Fast and the Furious sequel. You can view them below.

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Monday Morning Critic – On Gina Carano and Why A Female Expendables Is Perhaps The Worst Idea Ever Mon, 01 Oct 2012 12:00:11 +0000 Every Monday morning, InsidePulse Movies Czar Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings an irreverent and oftentimes hilarious look at pop culture, politics, sports and whatever else comes to mind. And sometimes he writes about movies.

You know what amused the ever loving hell out of me this week? This quote as Gina Carano joined a female version of The Expendables, ahem. It’s from a Variety article announcing it, as well, and it’s easily one of the dumbest things anyone has ever said on anything.

“I don’t know how I’m supposed to make a movie that is supposed to be the female version of ‘The Expendables’ without Gina Carano in it,” producer Adi Shankar told Variety magazine. “It would be like making Twix without caramel or Jamba Juice without jamba.”

I wish I could write a massive column taking down about how Gina Carano is just another pretty face with a slightly above interesting back story where being a former professional fighter and American Gladiator somehow translates into acting credibility. At this point her acting experience has been in Haywire and the currently shooting Fast and the Furious sequel. And one has to put an asterisk on Haywire because her voice was, ahem, altered for it.

And by altered I mean “replaced with a couple people to help the character find her own voice” to use the official explanation and such… from which you can infer that statement means “replaced with a couple of people because it was so bad that we needed it merged into one because her acting was so rancid we needed to salvage the film. I mean $20 million doesn’t grow on trees, you feel me?”

The official explanation was that they wanted it for the character, et al, but let’s be frank. It’s because her performance was so bad that Soderbergh had to save his film by any means necessary. Don’t kid yourself if you think this was for any other reason.

You don’t see someone altering an actor’s voice in a major studio picture for any reason after the fact; affecting an accent or vocal change during is standard for a lot of actors. Christian Bale uses an American accent so well it’s almost scary but it’s something HE does. It’s not dubbed in by an American actor after the fact to “better find the character and actor as two separate entities” or some garbage like that. It’s a weaksauce excuse that translates into “man, she was so bad we had to spend millions on a fancy technology so our film didn’t completely suck.”

Think of it like this: if Looper was horrible because of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and they dubbed in a combination of Freddie Hightower and Ethan Hawke’s voice it’d be a massive deal. Why? Good actors don’t get their voices changed for such a ridiculous reason as “finding the character” or any other reason, frankly. Bad actors get their awfulness covered up.

But it harkens to a bigger point: a female Expendables is easily a horrible idea and might be the worst since Nicolas Cage as Superman. And it’s not because women can’t kick ass en masse like their male Expendables counterparts, either. The first thing people will think of is “oh, you’re sexist” in the same manner that people think you’re some sort of anti-religious zealot for pointing out that faith-based films can suck too for a lot of reasons. And it’s not because I don’t want to see women kicking ass; far from it.

It’s just that there aren’t female stars to be nostalgic for out there.

Gina Carano is technically a choice to make if you’re going to duplicate the formula of Stallone’s latest franchise, as she moves into the Jason Statham role, but she doesn’t have the cache that Statham brings to that picture. And if you add in a number of female action film stars over the years you’re not left with anyone who’s an actual movie star. Let’s be frank: you could add in Linda Hamilton, Zoe Saldana, Cameron Diaz, Sigourney Weaver and Milla Jovovich to the mix with Carano and you still don’t have much. It’s borderline direct to video at best depending on the size of the budget, frankly. Why?

Because The Expendables featured people who were movie stars, not people with a handful of popular films.

It’s the difference between movie stars and popular people, as Chris Rock said famously back in his Oscar monologue. Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Willis, et al, were all movie stars at some point. Weaver and Hamilton were in a couple of popular films by comparison. There’s no one longing for a return to the days of Linda Hamilton as an action star, honestly, but people still want to see Arnold as the action movie god he properly is. Carano isn’t even classifiable as a popular actor right now; she’s got a niche that’s hard to duplicate and different bonafides.

Carano is a D-list actress (at best) who used to fight and is now an actress trading on those 15 minutes of fame as long as she can. She gets a pass from people because she wasn’t an actress prior to achieving fame. It’s the Rick Fox rule: You get a certain amount of time and film before she actually has to develop her acting because she’s a former athlete, not a drama student. Right now she can get away with being “so bad it makes Vin Diesel look like Sean Penn” level that will undoubtedly come up in a review of Fast Six (or whatever that film is going to be called). She’s not supposed to be good at this point because she’s new and doesn’t have the acting reps. When it comes to fighting she should look way better because she’s a skilled martial artist; instead of listening to whiny emo songs and being weird, like plenty of drama students, she studied beating people up for fun. When it comes to acting she’s going to be bad and it’d be unexpected if she was quite good.

Rick Fox is a worse actor than he was a basketball player, which is saying something, but no one ever screams that he’s rancid in a Tyler Perry film because it’s not like this was his life’s passion as a child. He’s a former athlete trying to get better and people give him and other athletes leeway; Carano will get this and more because she’s really attractive. Sexism can work in her favor if she’s bad; people pay attention to Megan Fox (and cast her in films) in part because she’s attractive despite the fact that her acting is usually so bad it makes Vin Diesel look like Sir Laurence Olivier. Carano can also always do a sexy photo shoot in a boxing ring again and she’ll be fine. Why do you think Megan Fox wears a bikini so much? It’s there to remind people why she’s in films and distract them from her universally crappy acting.

Bringing in all these older actresses as a sort of team up with Carano and probably a couple other young actresses is only going to emphasize that none of them are stars. Imagine the female Expendables trailer with the narrator announcing that it’ll be “Gina Carano, Kate Beckinsale, Oscar award winner Sandra Bullock, Cameron Diaz, Milla Jovovich, Sigourney Weaver, Linda Hamilton and Sarah Jessica Parker” et al are all going to be in the same film? Sounds like a Fried Green Tomatoes remake than the female equivalent to an action film franchise that has been fairly awesome so far.

I think doing a female version of The Expendables is a really bad idea. But it’s not that there aren’t female equivalent films out there waiting to be made from action films past. In fact there are a lot of action film staples that should have their female equivalents before The Expendables if only because they can translate more effectively. A female Expendables will not work, and will lose a lot of money, because it doesn’t have the same cinematic cache. But what could work? A lot of films, actually, and to narrow it down we have to use a couple of criteria.

1. No Superheroes.

It’s easy to do and frankly there aren’t any all-girl superhero groups one can think of off-hand that would be well known enough to justify any realistic budget.

2. Can be a remake of a film made in last 30 years

In fact that makes it easier; people will come out to a familiar concept. Original concepts are having a hard time drawing people into the box office; this is a risky concept to put any budget towards so something that has a built in audience will help.

3. Easily convertible … i.e. the Salt Principle.

Salt was supposed to star Tom Cruise until he pulled out, then Angelina Jolie stepped in and the film didn’t miss a beat. You need a film like that, that allows you to switch in any actor or actress in the lead, without any significant changes being made.

Thus I humbly present, in no particular order:

The Top Nine Films We Need Female Versions Of

Con Air

Original Premise:

Why this fits: Women in prison films have a certain status for a reason; now imagine putting a “women in prison” film on an airplane. You throw in Carano in the Nic Cage part, let Sandra Bullock just chew scenery like she’s bulking up for her own Monster and put in someone getting all Buscemi-like creepy and you’re money.

Four Brothers

Original Premise: Marky Mark, Tyrese, Andre 3000 and the kid from the Tron sequel are foster brothers who’s adoptive mother is killed. They decide to figure out who did it and kill them.

Why this fits: Get four actresses along the same age or so, bring in an elderly father figure and add in some good old fashioned revenge. It’s Facts of Life but with automatic gunfire. I’d pay a ticket to see that. So would most people, too.


Original Premise: Liam Neeson’s daughter is kidnapped. Necks need to be snapped.

Why this fits: If 90 pound Angelina Jolie can knock out dudes with one punch then a female action star can torture dudes like Neeson. A mother trying to get a child back and doing violent things to do so is a powerful kind of thing to harness cinematically.

Under Siege

Original Premise: Steven Seagal is a cook stuck down below while terrorists try to seize his ship.

Why this fits: If Steven Seagal can rip off Die Hard someone with actual talent can do so as well. Think of it like G.I Jane but intentionally ridiculous, as opposed to the unintentional badness that the Ridley Scott film brought to the table.


Original Premise: Sylvester Stallone is a bad ass cop trying to solve a cult filled with people who use axes.

Why this fits: You know that the line “Crime’s a disease. She’s the cure” would just ooze cool on a movie poster.

Grosse Pointe Blank

Original Premise: John Cusack is a contract killer coming back to his hometown to do a job. The girl that got away confronts him.

Why this fits: John Cusack isn’t the most masculine actor and replacing the genders would be an interesting experiment. A female assassin going back to her high school days could be played a lot of ways; maybe she was the girl who got bullied and became this badass because of it. Imagine the interactions when the former band geek comes back and is just oozing sex and violence. And a little awesome, too.

Running Scared

Original Premise: Wacky cops bring down a drug dealer.

Why this fits: You get two good female comic actresses, like Kirsten Wiig and Maya Rudolph, and let them riff. It worked already in Bridesmaids and seeing them as detectives ala Gregory Hines & Billy Crystal would be a great experiment.

Action Jackson

Original Premise: Apollo Creed is a cop trying to bring down Craig T Nelson by any means necessary, including with his penis.

Why this fits: A badass cop trying to bring down a crime lord is never dull. And I bet Craig T Nelson would be willing to star in it; it’s not like he’s making mad bank from his Coach royalties, yo.

Shoot ‘Em Up

Original Premise: Clive Owen shoots lots and lots of bad guys because it’s fun. Paul Giamatti chews scenery for the same reason.

Why this fits: Replace Owen & Giamatti with Bullock & Weaver in your mind. Is there really all that much of a difference? Not really. It’s such a manic film that you can probably duplicate it without much of a problem.

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

This Week’s DVD – Waking Life

Before A Scanner Darkly showcased off his ability to tell a story with rotoscope, Waking Life showed he could put a film together in the format.

Following an unnamed protagonist (Wiley Wiggins) as he kind of wanders through what I presume is Austin, TX, as he wanders through a series of conversations about philosophy, et al, in a sort of rambling, talky kind of film. If you can tolerate that kind of film, this is for you. Me, I wasn’t nearly as big a fan but the DVD is cheap and I imagine if you’re all drugged up this would be a trippy kind of experience. Kind of like 2001: A Space Odyssey which isn’t all that good of a film unless you’re a little messed up

Neither recommended nor not recommended

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 Pints of Bass Ale and community college co-eds with low standards at the Alumni Club

Frankenweenie – A little kid loses his dog, so he decides to go all Frankenstein and bring him back. Craziness ensues.

See It – Tim Burton’s stop-animation pictures are “can’t miss.” His live action pictures usually are “should miss.”

Taken 2 – There’s something about Maggie Grace that screams “kidnap me” apparently.

See It – Liam Neeson breaking necks and cashing checks? I’m good.

Butter (Limited Release) – Jennifer Garner and others engage in a butter curving competition. Olivia Wilde is a bi-sexual stripper.

See It – This has the Little Miss Sunshine kind of vibe to it.

V/H/S (Limited Release) – A series of horror shorts revolving around VHS tapes, I think.

See It – It’s been getting a lot of buzz lately, mostly good.

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .×120.jpg

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Blu-ray Review: Haywire Wed, 02 May 2012 19:00:56 +0000 Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire finds its strengths through its beautifully shot scenes, its hard-hitting realistic, well choreographed one-on-one fights that don’t rely on shaky cam, and its stylistic approach using various colour tones and interesting camera angles to help convey the mood and atmosphere throughout. These highlights make Haywire a slower-paced thriller that’s enjoyable enough to watch once, however, there’s just not enough there to warrant much more than that.

The story is fairly straightforward, though there are complexities throughout that help keep the viewers watching. Mallory Kane is a freelance covert operative who is about to leave her handler Kenneth (Ewan McGregor) and move on to bigger and better things, though before she can, she quickly finds herself at the center of a double-cross, and it will take all her skills and expertise to figure out why she was framed, and how to get back at those who betrayed her.

There’s a reason why we want to see Jason Bourne and John McClane succeed, and that’s because we feel something for them. Sure, they’ve got some superhuman characteristics that set them apart from your average Joe, but they still give the viewer an emotional connection. That’s something that’s lacking from Haywire’s leading lady, Mallory Kane (Gina Carano). While we watch to see what will happen next because we’ve invested time into the story, when it comes right down to it, we don’t really care what happens to Kane. I mean, you want her to figure things out, but there’s no real rooting interest in the character, which hurts the movie overall.

Now, it should be mentioned that this problem isn’t the fault of Carano, as she’s actually one of the film’s bright spots. You may wonder how that’s possible if her character is someone that we don’t really care about? Well, it’s not her fault that the character is poorly written, and her performance and skills here will definitely help her gain credibility as one of the few potential female action stars Hollywood has to offer.

Of course, some may think, “Well, this is an action movie! Forget emotional connections and focus on the action!” and you wouldn’t be wrong in thinking that, and that’s also why Haywire receives a passing grade, as it does have some solid action sequences. While Bourne’s battles are filled with quick cuts and hard hitting martial arts action, Kane’s fights land on a much more realistic plateau for the most part, with both parties just pummeling on one another until one submits or is no longer breathing. It’s slower paced, but it works and it comes off feeling as though a real fight has just taken place.

Soderbergh once again attracts some big name talent to fill up the supporting cast of his film, and this also helps Haywire become worthwhile viewing. McGregor, Michael Fassbender and Channing Tatum have the biggest of the supporting roles, with smaller parts going to the likes of Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, and Bill Paxton. McGregor plays a fun, slimy character, and while Tatum’s character isn’t developed that well, he still does solid work here. Fassbender’s portion of the film is a highlight, as his chemistry with Carano is spot on, and while I want to see Daniel Craig continue to play James Bond for as long as possible, there’s a brief glimpse of what could be if Fassbender were to take over the part in the future. And it works.

As mentioned at the start, Soderbergh’s visual and shooting choices help keep the film interesting. The pacing is slow at times, however, it’s easy to see that it was never meant to be a Bourne clone. Still, for trying something new, the Soderbergh action thriller is something that could definitely work, and hopefully if he attempts another in the future, he’ll do so with a stronger script.

Haywire isn’t a bad film, but it’s nothing memorable either. It’s worth checking out once, as the directing, fight scenes and acting is solid throughout; however, it’s the work done by Carano that really stands out, and she’ll definitely be one to keep an eye on in the future as far as female action stars are concerned.

Haywire is a visually beautiful film, and the video transfer looks great. The images are sharp, and the colours and hues are vibrant, while the darks are deep and rich. The sound is solid throughout, which is always a plus.

Gina Carano in Training – This featurette comes in at 16 minutes in length and covers a bunch of Gina’s history in fighting, with video from her mixed martial arts bouts, which are quite crazy to see. Not only did she train for the fights, but also the gun usage while moving, and so forth. Fun featurette to watch where you get to see some of the actors she fought with talk about their battles as well.

The Men of Haywire – This is a five and a half minute featurette that covers just was it says, and that’s interviews with the men in the film. The interviews are fast, and cover the usual basis as to what they each feel about the film, and what it was like working with Soderbergh.

Characters of Haywire – This featurette runs at just under ten minutes and it’s basically promotional footage for the film, with each of the characters given their own quick promotional package.

Haywire is a film that’s work checking out at least once, though the lack of memorable characters and replay value make this one more of a visually entertaining film over one that you can sink your teeth into. Still, Carano is one to watch, and I have no doubt that she’ll be a top female action star in the coming years.

Relativity Media presents Haywire. Directed by: Steven Soderbergh. Written by: Len Dobbs. Starring: Gina Carano, Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Bill Paxton, Channing Tatum, Antonio Banderas, Michael Douglas. Running time: 93 minutes. Rating: . Released on Blu-ray: May 1, 2012. Available at×120.jpg

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Gina Carano Signs On To In The Blood – Signal MMA Career is over? Wed, 15 Feb 2012 04:00:00 +0000

Gina Carano might be done with fighting after all. Despite the lack of Haywire finding an audience, grossing $24 million worldwide against a budget of approximately the same, Carano is signing on to John Stockwell’s In the Blood

Described as being in the vein of Taken, Blood is set in motion when a husband disappears while vacationing in the Caribbean with his wife, to be played by Carano. The grieving wife passionately and recklessly pursues the men whom she believes kidnapped and killed him.

“This role will showcase not only Gina’s fighting skills, but also her acting abilities as her character struggles to reign in her violent past,” Stockwell tells The Hollywood Reporter.×120.jpg

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Just Seen It Movie Review: Haywire [Video] Tue, 24 Jan 2012 06:59:50 +0000 Mallory is a freelance, covert operative and very good at what she does. But when a mission goes seriously wrong and her partner tries to kill her, Mallory must run for her life. Discovering that she was used as a pawn, Mallory hunts down her betrayer in HAYWIRE. Starring Gina Carano, Ewan McGregor and Michael Fassbender. Directed by Steven Soderbergh. Written by Lem Dobbs. Produced by Gregory Jacobs. Genre: Action Spy Thriller.

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Haywire – Review Sat, 21 Jan 2012 13:00:33 +0000
Fights, lies, and gauze and tape

Roger Ebert once remarked, “No good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough.” However, in the case of Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire, you could make the argument that had the film’s slim 90-minute duration (which includes the end credits) had been fifteen minutes longer, it would have been a lesser work.

Now this is the same director who four years ago delivered a two-part film on Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara that ran an elongated 269 minutes total. So to see him make a spy thriller/action film that comes in well under the two-hour mark and without the requisite explosions associated with the genre is a near miracle. The director, who rejuvenated independent film in the late 1980s with Sex, Lies and Videotape, has been able to play the studio system game by helming works that appeal to the mainstream (see Ocean’s Eleven) while also maintaining his artistic freedom with offbeat works that only play to small crowds (see Bubble).

While his latest is a mainstream effort, Soderbergh’s visual eye is not restrained. Haywire is really an art film in disguise; action junkies who love seeing a strong woman kick ass in combat garb or a cocktail dress will probably dismiss the visible and aural cues.

Having worked with such Oscar winners as George Clooney, Julia Roberts, and Michael Douglas, Soderbergh could have easily gone with a name and a face to play heroine Mallory Kane. Instead, he went with an unconventional choice. Watching a Mixed Martial Arts event he noticed Gina Carano and thought she would be great for the part. Fighting in a caged octagon is one thing but playing a character in a movie is a new arena entirely. A visual stunner, in the event her lines didn’t deliver like her kicks, Carano has been surrounded by a well-rounded list of notable actors – including Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas and the flavor of the moment, Michael Fassbender.

It goes without saying that Carano has great charisma for her role, albeit her acting is far from spectacular. In fact, her voice in the film isn’t even hers. In a little bit of trickery she’s been Milli Vanilled. Soderbergh’s rationale is that he wanted people to believe that Gina and her character were “two completely different entities.” And instead of a vocal coach her voice was replaced in post-production. Reading such a revelation is likely to distract conscious moviewatchers whereas the mass populace will take everything at face value. Though her voice may have been altered, there’s no denying Carano’s beguiling presence. Dripping sex in a bruising frame, she is able to be physical when the scene calls for it as well as be portrayed as eye candy.

Haywire, like last year’s Drive, strips the plot down to its basic parts leaving a lean action flick. Only instead of Carano wearing a scorpion jacket or trying to hypnotize McGregor and others as she stares right through them, she hits hard and moves lithely through the scene. Her Mallory Kane character is part of a team of covert operatives that handles sticky jobs so that government agents can maintain a reasonable amount of plausible deniability. When she is betrayed by her superiors and is close to being terminally liquidated, Mallory raises Cain and goes looking for revenge. After a successful mission in Barcelona, her boss, Kenneth (Ewan Mcgregor), sends her to Dublin. It is there she teams with fellow contractor Paul (Michael Fassbender) to do a simple job that should take no longer than 48 hours. However, the mission was a ploy to tie up some loose ends. But Mallory won’t go down without a fight. Or two. Or three.

Told mostly through flashbacks the viewing audience is dependent upon Mallory’s narration and recollections about her time in Barcelona and Dublin to fuel her vengeance. As such, we are afforded such a short run time. But leave it to Steven Soderbergh to not allow that time to go to waste. Working in both a directing and cinematographer capacity, Soderbergh stages the action scenes with a strong sense of coherence. The shaky cam technique that has been a staple of the Jason Bourne franchise – specifically the Paul Greengrass sequels – is sparingly used in favor of wide and medium-range shots. In terms of photography, Soderbergh’s color palate ranges from black & white for one sequence to a variety of desaturated hues in multiple scenes and locations (imagine the look of Traffic but in a spy thriller).

Haywire doesn’t skimp when it comes to brutality, either. Unlike the latest Mission: Impossible where it looked like Tom Cruise’s character died at least three times doing impossible stunts, Mallory has a more grounded approach when it comes to subduing her enemies. And if she happens to take a fist to the face, well, there’s always concealer.

For a director who has given himself a timetable as to when he will take a sabbatical from making films Steven Soderbergh is doing his best to sample other genres that have escaped his filmmaking ways until now. Haywire is full of energy and has a visual flair that is lacking in most action flicks nowadays. Gina Carano’s charisma gives her an authenticity that Kate Beckinsale, Mila Jovovich and other starlet action heroines can never achieve. Hopefully audiences will agree, because I’d love a series of Mallory Kane movies helmed by different directors a la Cruise’s Mission: Impossible franchise.

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Notable Cast: Gina Carano, Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Michael Douglas, Channing Tatum, Bill Paxton, Antonio Banderas
Writer(s): Lem Dobbs×120.jpg

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Ewan McGregor and Gina Carano Talk Shop In Haywire Clip Wed, 18 Jan 2012 18:00:07 +0000 A new clip from Haywire has been released by the UK’s Empire Online, which you can view below.×120.jpg

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Monday Morning Critic: Red Tails, Racism and George Lucas – Archer Season 3 Preview – Gina Carano & Haywire Mon, 16 Jan 2012 13:00:37 +0000 Haywire, George Lucas and Red Tails and a preview of Season 3 of Archer]]> Every Monday morning, InsidePulse Movies Czar Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings an irreverent and oftentimes hilarious look at pop culture, politics, sports and whatever else comes to mind. And sometimes he writes about movies.

One of the more interesting interviews of last week was George Lucas discussing Red Tails with Jon Stewart and “The Daily Show.” Considering he financed the film himself and probably called in a handful of favors to get Fox to release it with him, as well. The interview itself is remarkable in Lucas’s candor; I’m not a fan of the show but I always give Stewart credit for one thing as interviewer. He always gets remarkable honesty and some great insight from whomever he has on. He might be the best interviewer on any show, too, and thankfully you can watch the interview below.

And you know, I kind of respect Lucas for his candor on the subject. This is a passion project for him and a story that needed to be told as the Tuskegee Airmen don’t get the sort of attention they ought to. Lucas may still be cashing in on Star Wars to a degree that makes Gene Simmons branding of KISS seem reasonable but I can respect him for wanting to recapture the magic of the initial Star Wars films and provide some knowledge as well. I can see where he’s going with the film from how he’s designed it; he wants it to be a modern day serial like Flash Gordon back during his childhood. But one thing kind of bugs me when he sort of implies a bit of token racism involved in no one wanting to make or distribute this film but him.

This is the same guy who created Jar Jar Binks, amongst others, and last time I checked one of the things about Binks is that some people thought he kind of represented a racial stereotype. It was probably just Lucas trying to create another Chewbacca for another generation, something that kids would love, and no one at Lucasfilm has the guts to say “Hey George, this is a horrible idea.” If they did the prequels would’ve been closer to the original trilogy in terms of quality and tone. But Red Tails could represent a return to form for the man who created one of the more enduring trilogies and universes of our time or perhaps any time.

A return to form.

One of the things that tends to get overlooked because of our nostalgia for Star Wars is that the film came together through adversity. A nightmare of a shoot, one no movie insider or box office speculator would’ve thought could turn into one of the biggest franchises ever, Star Wars was the right movie at the right time. While Red Tails may not hit that sort of box office success, if it showcases Lucas the producer finally getting behind something that isn’t outright pandering for action figures and whatnot means a return to some level of quality above the last Indiana Jones film then I think something good is bound to come out of this.

George Lucas is rarely challenged as a film-maker. When he’s not just making a film for the sake of making it, usually good things come out of it. Hopefully the tail of the Tuskegee Airmen brings out something we haven’t seen from the man in a while.

Random Thought of the Week

One of the more unique things that didn’t get as much press was that of Gina Carano and Haywire. More specifically, they changed her voice in post production. Per TMZ:

“The folks behind the movie didn’t like the way Carano sounded when they filmed the flick … so they changed it in post. It’s unclear if they used fancy electronics to alter Gina’s vocal quality, or whether they dubbed in another female voice.”

Is it just me or this is a sign that perhaps people need to lessen their expectations of both Carano and Haywire at this point? I could see if she did that wheeze/grunt thing like Bane in The Dark Knight Rises but Carano doesn’t have the worst voice in a woman. Not memorable but not like nails on a chalkboard, either. We’re not talking like she’s Fran Drescher or something.

But the fact that they changed her voice to the point where it’s noticeable is something. And not a good sign for Haywire.

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

This Week’s DVD – Archer (Season 3, First Four Episodes)

When I got the second season of Archer to review from my friends at m80, I also got the first four episodes of Archer’s current season which begins this week. You can read my thoughts on the second season here but Archer is one of the few television shows for me that remain what you could call appointment television. So I figured I’d give some thoughts on them because nothing else I’ve seen on DVD this past week is worth a mention.

Archer, for those who have yet to see the show, is an animated series on FX about Sterling Archer (voice of H. Jon Benjamin), secret agent in the employ of international spy agency ISIS. Based out of New York City, he works for his spymaster mother (Jessica Walter) and bickers with his ex-girlfriend Lana (Aisha Taylor). Joining them are the nebbish comptroller (Chris Parnell), clueless secretary (Judy Greer), portly gossip of an HR manager (Amber Nash) and an assortment of characters who to call off-kilter would be fairly kind. A good comparison would be to It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia but with a spy agency instead of a bar.

The first four episodes show a series that has found a groove. My only real problem with the first season was that it was “hit and miss” in terms of quality. Some episodes were good and some didn’t quite hit the mark. When it hit it was absolute golden, like the blimp episode. Others … not so much. This was a show that was always interesting but never brilliant regularly enough that a second season wasn’t guaranteed. It was a lot like The League in that it was good but you could see FX cancelling it like it has a handful of shows like Lights Out and Terriers which were in similar spots quality wise.

At the end of the first season the series was getting into a groove that carried the second season to a much stronger one than the first. The third starts off remarkably funny and just hits a groove; I was disappointed that it was only four episodes because by the end of the fourth I wanted more. The early highlight is Archer chewing out an Ocelot in Canada at the end of “The Limited.” Throw in a debut with Burt Reynolds being … well … Burt Reynolds and you have the potential for some remarkably funny stuff.

This season is going to be great.

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 Pints of Bass Ale and community college co-eds with low standards at the Alumni Club

Haywire – Gina Carano tries to become the next big action star or something

Skip It – They redubbed her lines or changed her voice in post production. Not a good sign.

Red Tails – George Lucas’ produced look at the Tuskegee Airmen.

See It – George Lucas has a lot to redeem himself for cinematically. Getting a great cast of African-American actors for a Flying Leathernecks type tale about World War II heroics is a start.

Underworld: Awakening – Kate Beckinsale still likes the leather, apparently.

See It – The Underworld series is campy action with werewolves and vampires at its most amusing. It’s always interesting on a certain level.

Coriolanus – An adaptation of one Shakepeare’s lesser known plays by Ralph Fiennes. Opens limited after an L.A qualifying run.

See It – Ralph Fiennes has been getting Oscar talk for this fairly consistently and it’s probably worth watching.

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @MMCritic_Kubryk.×120.jpg

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Video: Opening Scene Of ‘Haywire’ Released Featuring Gina Carano And Channing Tatum Wed, 11 Jan 2012 13:00:22 +0000 Less than 14 days out from its release, which has been pushed back several times, Gina Carano starring Haywire has had its opening scene released online.

Plot Summary: Freelance covert operative Mallory Kane (Carano) is hired out by her handler to various global entities to perform jobs that governments can’t authorize and heads of state would rather not know about. After a mission to rescue a hostage in Barcelona, Mallory is quickly dispatched on another mission to Dublin. When the operation goes awry and Mallory finds she has been double crossed, she needs to use all of her skills, tricks, and abilities to escape an international manhunt, make it back to the United States, protect her family, and exact revenge on those that have betrayed her.×120.jpg

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