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The Daily Tar Heel

A wise prophet named Tyler Durden once said, “I want you to hit me as hard as you can.” Moviegoers want just the same from action films.

In this sense, “Haywire” delivers. It romps through its runtime using a mash-up of styles that surprise like a sucker punch. Though its gravitas may taper off with its incomplete plot, the film finishes with such a bang that viewers leave theaters feeling every ounce of beloved pain.

MMA fighter Gina Carano plays Mallory Kane, the top agent for a private firm which executes covert-op assignments. Upon completing a Barcelona rescue mission, Mallory realizes that the firm’s director, Kenneth (Ewan McGregor), framed her for kidnapping and intends to kill her before she finds out.

Director Steven Soderbergh shoots a full throttle script with a camera that refuses to move. You become a fly on the wall, granted an unprecedented view of super-agent badassery that lets you believe it could all really happen.

Odd sound editing furthers this endeavor. During every fight scene, there’s never even a second of soundtrack. Instead you hear the grunts and blows of raw yet admittedly stylized violence, which make most action movies seem too well-mannered by comparison.

But for every device evoking realism, there’s one suggesting a cool, sexy polish. David Holmes’s cocktail lounge soundtrack glides us from one gritty fight to the other. Dialogue indulges in camp until moments demand more original fare. It’s unexpected, yet exciting.

Carano eliminates any possible pretense that this is a “woman vs. the odds” sort of movie. She does not sport the air of defiance carried by most films’ female ass-kickers. Instead, she presents Mallory as an unstoppable force who just happens to have sex appeal in her arsenal of moving objects.

The film does have its share of loose ends, some of which end up standing at the forefront of viewers’ minds. But if you dodge this one-of-a-kind wallop on the sole basis of incomplete plot, Gina Carano will not hesitate to show no mercy.

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