‘Oh you shouldn’t think of her as being a woman. That would be a mistake.”
So says double agent Ewan McGregor to Michael Fassbender about Gina Carano in this amusing spy caper that has the beautiful Carano (a mysterious government operative hired out for unauthorised assignments) gallivanting around the globe on secret missions and repeatedly dodging the heavy artillery units (among them a special Garda task force!) commissioned to liquidate her.
Fresh from rescuing a hostage in Barcelona, she’s the kind of lady who could go 15 rounds with Mike Tyson and probably have him begging for mercy at the end of it. She looks like an angel but punches like a devil.
The opening scene in a restaurant will jolt you out of your seat. She’s sitting having a cup of coffee with a male friend when all Hell breaks loose. This sets the tone for the next 80 minutes, which will either have you quivering under your seat or chortling merrily.
”It was good craic,” said a guy beside me on the way out of the cinema, and that about sums it up.
The direction, by Steven Soderbergh, is offbeat in a predictable way if one is familiar with this man’s work, but it’s undercut by some real mayhem.
Think Lara Croft meets The Spy Who Came In From The Cold — with a dash of Monty Python, The Bourne Identity and even Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
When I was a child we used to watch cowboy films where the hero would soak up enough punishment to kill an elephant and then blithely march on to the next challenge. Carano is a bit like that.
After a violent tussle with Fassbender (in the Shelbourne Hotel, no less) you expect her to be carted off to the intensive care unit of Beaumont Hospital but instead she just sports a tiny little gash on her forehead and readies herself for the next crisis. Credible or what?
If kicking people in the head is your idea of fun you’ll enjoy this. You may groan but you’re also aware it’s slapstick. Like World Wrestling Federation clinches, you know the moves are orchestrated and contrived. It all rather reminds one of dancing with blood.
Blink-and-you-miss-’em cameos come courtesy of Michael Douglas and Antonio Banderas but it’s really Carano’s film and none of these men (or even McGregor or Fassbender) try to take it away from her.
Uma Thurman and Sigourney Weaver move over: we have a new distaff knight errant on our screens. Nimble of foot and sharp of tongue, she has the proverbial nine lives of the cat as she consigns her enemies to their happy hunting grounds with brusque efficiency.
Irish viewers will enjoy spotting well-known sights around the St Stephen’s Green area as Soderbergh lets his camera pan over the cityscape to capture Carano leaping from roof to roof to evade her would-be captors, or darting into alleyways off Grafton Street and thereabouts.
In a way, it’s like an animated film with real people — if you can imagine such a thing.
As for myself, I think I’ll be a bit nervous the next time I step into the Shelbourne for fear Michael Fassbender’s friends will stick a Kalashnikov in my gob.