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Run Gina Run

(Matthew Polly is the author of Tapped Out and American Shaolin and various nuggets of awesome here on Fightlinker. We sent him out last week to interview Gina and check out her movie. Now here’s his review of Haywire, coming out Friday January 20th.)

“Well, there is one group that will be happy with that,” said Jim Genia, the author of the excellent Raw Combat, after the press screening of Haywire mercifully ended.

“Who?” I asked. “It was worse than “>Colombiana.”

“Strikeforce,” he said. “They’re getting their fighter back.”

It pains me to write that Jim is probably right. I’ve covered Gina for years, I trained in the same gym for six months while she was preparing for Cyborg, and I interviewed her for Haywire. She has never been anything but unfailingly polite, going out of her way to talk with me when MMA fighters of much lower levels of fame couldn’t be bothered. I knew she wanted this movie to be her big break in Hollywood. I did too, because she deserves it. She’s fought for nine years in an industry where Dana White couldn’t be bothered with WMMA, Gary Shaw grossly underpaid her, and Scott Coker pushed her into a match with an opponent everyone knew was juicing. But I haven’t seen a one-and-done like Haywire since Cindy Crawford’s “>Fair Game.

It didn’t have to be this way. Director Steven Soderbergh revived the movie careers of Terence Stamp (The Limey) and Jennifer Lopez (Out of Sight) and cemented George Clooney as the Cary Grant of our times. But like Anderson Silva circa Demian Maia, Soderbergh seems bored with the entire process, filming experiments like Solaris, Bubble, and The Girlfriend Experience (another bit of stunt casting with porn star Sasha Grey) that satisfy no one but his most diehard fans.

Soderbergh has even made noises about retiring from movies. On the basis of Haywire he’s half way to Florida, having already given up on basics like plot, character development, narrative logic, and realistic dialogue. All that he seems to still care about is style and cinematography. Haywire is a visually stunning movie. I felt like I was watching Picasso put lipstick on a pig.

(More after the jump)

Can Gina act, you ask? No, but she shouldn’t be able to. She should have started her career, like other aspiring starlets, cutting her teeth in Children of the Corn VI or playing the lesbian space marine in the Aliens reboot. Instead Soderbergh threw her into the deep of the pool with Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, and Michael Douglas. It’s the equivalent of doing a shark tank with BJ Penn, GSP, and Randy Couture. They might go easy on you, but no matter how much natural talent you have you’ll still look a rank amateur in comparison to such grizzled veterans.

Gina Carano’s only acting experience is playing Gina Carano: the chubby duckling turned svelte swan who flips her hair, bites her lower lip coquettishly, and mugs goofily for the cameras. That’s what made MMA fans fall for her. But instead of playing to her strengths, Soderbergh has her playing an unflappable, unstoppable, affectless killing machine—The Terminatrix. He even tweaked her voice in post-production so much that at times it sounded like they brought in a different actress with a serious smoking habit to redub certain sections. (Gina denied this in her interview.)

Is there anything redeeming about this movie? Not really. When you cast a martial artist/Maxim cover girl in an action flick, the minimum requirement is two hot sex scenes and three wicked fight sequences. To quote an ancient Hollywood proverb, “shit has its own integrity.” Haywire has two chaste kissing scenes and the fight choreography ranges from mediocre to Captain Kirk laughable. So much of the movie is spent with Gina sprinting through stylish European cities that in the third act when Gina finally takes her stand, saying “I’m not running anymore,” “>Peter Lampasona of, who was sitting next to me in the screening, mumbled under his breath, “Good.” It was the funniest moment of the entire experience.

I hope Jim and I are wrong. I hope fans and critics adore Gina’s performance and turn Haywire into a huge blockbuster that cements her as the next Kate Beckinsale. But speaking as someone with very low standards when it comes to martial arts flicks, I doubt it. She’ll be back in the cage… Or in court, suing Soderbergh for malpractice.

  • FilmDrunk

    The fight scene in the hotel room was pretty badass. There needed to be a few more of those.

  • raizor

    Ouch! Can’t say I’m shocked or surprised. Will probably still end up watching it though, even if it is a big stinker :(

  • SkippyKid

    Sounds like you enjoyed it.

  • Symbul

    Yep, that’s about what I was expecting.

  • agentsmith

    I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise.

  • G Funk

    Nothing can be worse than “Colombiana”.

  • Blackula Jonez

    But guys, this movie has big names.

    Thats 95% of what makes a movie awesome.

    I may catch this as a rental when it hits dvd around March.

    I also see Gina doing either television (probably a reality show) before coming back to fighting. Especially if she has to hit 135.

  • Blackula Jonez

    I should also give a disclaimer that I avoid mma movies like the plague as a rule.

    Even though I have heard awesome things about Warrior I have still not seen due to my gut reaction to mma movies. MMA documentaries on the other hand I have no problem with.

  • CAP

    Black is right the other names attached are big in Hollywood they should be able to carry it. If this movie makes money it is a “success”. I’m not a big movie watcher but I think this should do well enough by Hollywood standards. If it bombs I blame it on no nude scenes.

  • Wulv

    And yet it has a good rating on Rotten Tomatoes, even Roger Ebert somewhat liked it.

  • matthewpolly

    Good point, Wulv. I was surprised by the love on Rotten Tomato. Personally, I think there is a cult of Soderbergh worshipers nestled like Free Masons among the critics. They dig his experiments. So maybe it really is a great movie and I missed it. To support our girl Gina alone it is worth seeing, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

  • repenttokyo

    This is far from an experiment for Soderberg.  It’s a paycheck, so he can go back to producing stuff like ‘We Need To Talk About Kevin.’  Action films are always paychecks.

  • DJ ThunderElbows

    So there’s bad acting, weak fight scenes AND I don’t even get Gina’s sexy voice?  Oh well.

  • GameCritics

    More surprisingly, I’ve seen three reviews from major publications, all praising Gina’s performance. Kind of reminds of how all the critics like Ebert use to think Jackie Chan movies were shit until Tarentino made loving Jackie cool and then Rumble in the Bronx gets like three stars.

  • agentsmith

    I stopped putting much stock in Rotten Tomatoes when “Beerfest” got only 39%.

  • iamphoenix

    rotten tomotoes can eat a dick because Bio-Dome is fucking awesome.

  • Reverend Clint

    ive never really been a soderbergh fan since his mvies all seem to be the copies, oceans eleven was a copy of lock, stock

  • glassjawsh

    ^ ocean’s eleven is a remake of a movie from the 60’s…..

    and it’s ironic that you’d mention lock, stock and two smoking barrels and copies since the guy who did that (guy ritchie) had essentially made a career out of making that same movie over and over again (snatch, revolver, RocknRolla) before he made Sherlock Holmes

  • Reverend Clint

    ^ive seen the old one dumbass


  • matthewpolly

    I’m gunna go with glassjawsh on this. point of lock, stock… was all the criminals were morons. Ocean’s 11 all the criminals are cool, geniuses. That said, Guy Ritchie would have been a much better director for Gina’s first movie. It would have been funny and the fight scenes way cooler: he’s a BJJ dude.

  • Night Rider

    So much to agree with in here,

    Agentsmith “I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise”


    Blackula, I havent seen warrior for the same fucking reason and no matter what I hear about how good it is still couldn’t care less.

    And Phoenix “rotten tomotoes can eat a dick because Bio-Dome is fucking awesome”


    and DJ Thunder “So there’s bad acting, weak fight scenes AND I don’t even get Gina’s sexy voice? Oh well.”

    Sums it up except I am actually more disappointed it seems than you on those points.

    Great stuff guys

  • DJ ThunderElbows

    No man, I just can’t bother getting mad anymore.  I’ve had a few weeks for it to sink in.  I was furious when I heard her voice in the first leaks.

    At this point, the movie campaign is just an ad for her hopeful eventual return to fighting if she’s still into it.

  • iamphoenix

    Thanks for the summary night rider (im assuming you are a black person because night is always a reference to a persons skin tone) and i hope you do this after each post. Btw, do you know blackula?

  • Night Rider

    Anytime Phoenix, If I can’t come up with my own good material I can always lazily point to yours, and no I’m not black or even brown, I’m pale as fuck. I assume because of this, you would think i have less % chance to know blackula? lol

    Dj , Agree the worst part of what I’ve seen is it doesn’t sound like gina, it sounds like gina’s corpse after a bottle and a carton, which reminds me of when I heard Randy’s voice in a clip of the scorpion king shit, it was just easier to accept since I wasn’t waiting for randy’s sexy voice only to be disappointed. somehow i know theres a lot of ammo for the jackals in that paragraph

    and also Biodome just fucking Biodome lol, who the fuck was in that shit other than pauly shore, wasn’t it like a fucking goofy baldwin brother ? /endhighrant

  • iamphoenix

    Pauly shore, stephen baldwin, dr noah faulkner…ive literally seen this movie over a 100 times.

  • Jarman

    Good on ya for the honest review Bao Mosi. I likely wasn’t going to see it before…..but I might just try now for the unintentional hilarity. Lol to ‘Picasso putting lipstick on a pig.”

    Thank you Jack’s complete lack of surprise. good to see you! Is Jack’s medulla Oblongata here too?

    Biodome, like all Pauly Shore movies, was a steaming pile of shit, with no pretensions to being anything other than a steaming pile of shit. In doing so, it was mildly enjoyable. But wow, this is one of those “another layer of onion that is phoenix” moments. speaks volumes. stinks too, and i think I’m crying a bit.

  • frickshun

    Oh man……so much to say. 1st, I want to say “Yes, I totes agree.” 2nd, I gotta say “No way, you’re soooo off base.” 3rd, “Hahahahah, ridic!! For sure!! I was going to say the same thing!” 4th, “Been there, done that.” 5th, “Not for all the tea in China, pal.” 6th, “Probably. But my anniversary is coming up & I don’t know how I’ll swing it.” 7th, “Average. Okay, maybe slightly below average. Zero control over my orgasms. Like the factory forgot to put the pin in the grenade.”

  • Grappo

    it’s standard practice to dub over mumble-mouthed MMA fighers in movies apparently.  Check out Forrest Griffin in 13 –

  • Night Rider

    Frick sometimes you just try way too hard…

  • iamphoenix

    No. It was lol!

  • frickshun

    Oh snap…..frick got burrrrrrrrrned!!