I think I saw the trailer for this in theaters twice, and both times my reaction was “Hm. Maybe.” It had the trappings of yet-another-action-movie but felt a little bit different; it seemed to have some of the personality of The Bourne Identity, which is something I value very highly. It turns out it’s directed by Steven Soderbergh, who most recently put out Contagion, which I didn’t like that much, but he’s also made a whole bunch of very good movies. You’ve probably seen a bunch of them. I think this is his first pure action movie, and he made a great choice for the star; former mixed martial arts fighter Gina Carano.
It’s a very simple story. Mallory Kane (Gina) is a contract badass, and through an unfortunate turn of events she gets betrayed and marked for death. Her story is told partially by her to a random guy from a diner while driving his car in order to not die. That’s about it, and that’s cool. Simple stories can be great as long as they’re well executed and the rest of the film is made with attention to quality, and I think that’s been done here.
Gina is not an accomplished actress, but Soderbergh did a great job of making her look like one as well as he could. She doesn’t have a lot of lines. Her acting is largely physical, much like Ryan Gosling’s performance in Drive, except there isn’t much in the way of subtlety here. She just kicks ass all over the place. The ass-kicking is often filmed in ways your don’t often see in action films these days; wide, steady shots, few quick cuts, and lots of pretty complex fight choreography. Even the gun battles are given an almost panoramic feel. It’s just nice.
The score I’ve been told sounds a lot like Ocean’s Eleven, but of course I don’t remember that at all. I probably liked it though, because I liked it here. It’s very jazzy, at times sounding like something from a James Bond movie. I don’t remember anything particularly orchestral anywhere. Really cool atmosphere.
It certainly doesn’t hurt to have such an awesome cast too, with the meteoric Michael Fassbender, the recently-redeemed (in my eyes) Antonio Banderas, Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglass, and even Channing Tatum in his first good role ever. Everyone performs admirably, and much less annoyingly than in Contagion.
Really the only bad thing I can say about this movie is that Gina’s not that great at delivering her lines convincingly 100% of the time. She’s just not really an experienced actress. Damn fun to watch though.