Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Female Domination

Rated: R  Action violence and language
Release Date: January 20, 2012
Runtime: 1 hr 23 min

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Writers: Lem Dobbs
Cast: Antonio Banderas, Bill Paxton, Channing Tatum, Ewan McGregor, Gina Carano, Michael Angarano, Michael Douglas, Michael Fassbender

SYNOPSIS: In-demand government military contractor Mallory finds herself betrayed by and on the run from her own people during a supposedly routine covert operation.

REVIEW: Steven Soderbergh, director of such films as the Oceans 11 trilogy, Contagion, and The Informant!, returns with a story of a former marine, turned government contractor asset who finds herself on the run from the very agencies that employed her services. Based on a story written by The Score scribe Lem Dobbs, Soderbergh continues in his multi-faceted, multi-hued filmmaking tradition.

Former Marine turned black ops covert contracter asset Mallory (Gina Carano, Blood and Bone) carries out wetwork or rescue support for her contractor boss Kenneth (Ewan McGregor, The Men Who Stare At Goats). After a routine rescue operation as a four man team, including first-time contractor asset Aaron (Channing Tatum, The Eagle), in the recovery of a Korean journalist Jiang (Anthony Brandon Wong, Crooked Business) for CIA agents Coblenz (Michael Douglas, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps) and Rodrigo (Antonio Banderas, Puss in Boots), Mallory finds herself betrayed on a new mission when partnered with MI6 British Intelligence agent Paul (Michael Fassbender, X-Men: First Class). Mallory, now on the run from the authorities and government agencies, fights her way to finding the source of her 'burn notice'.

In the typical Soderbergh style, the story is laid out in a linear fashion starting in the middle with loop after loop of flashbacks filling in the story as the audience needs to be informed. Starting at a roadside diner on a snowy day, Mallory walked from the woods across the street into the warmth of the restaurant for a cup of hot tea and a break from running. Sitting in a corner booth with the fashion style of Aeon Flux, she decompresses until fellow contract asset Aaron arrives to bring her back in. The first of many superbly choreographed brutal, raw, efficient, and elegant fight scenes ensues. The waitress and another diner patron, Scott (Michael Angarano, Red State) try to assist but Mallory handles Aaron all by herself. Fleeing the diner with Scott in Scott's car, Mallory fills him in on what she knows in the hopes that he can get that information to her father (Bill Paxton, Frailty) in case something happens to her.

As Mallory tells Scott of her exploits around the world in places like Barcalona and Dublin, Soderbergh keeps the audience straight with differing hair styles for Mallory and different hues and tonal qualities for each location. Barcalona is filled with warmth and sepia tones. Dublin is colder and threaded in cool shades of blue and gray. Sometimes the audience may feel like Scott, trying desperately to keep the facts and names straight and recite them back to Mallory in an intelligence fashion, but the cast of main characters is small, focused, and explained in the end.

Feeling like a cold war era film, Soderbergh uses music that dates the movie back to a more romanticized era of the spy game while keeping the story itself grounded in the present. I am not sure that the choice of music suits the film to the best degree while we watch the operatives breach a town house with the best modern weaponry that government money can buy, but the sound is consistent throughout.

Gina Carano is no stranger to athleticism, fighting or action. As the 'American Gladiator' Crush, she can dish out as much punishment as she can take. The fight and chase scenes play to her strengths as a physical strong woman. As Mallory, when she is relegated to being Paul's arm candy undercover wife, we see Mallory's discomfort to being idle and tension to be let loose. The only downsize of the fight scenes was the speed-up of the film to make the action look quicker and more brutal. At times, the change in physical speed distracted more than added to the scene.

Some have said that the film is simply an endless chase scene. They would be correct since Mallory is on the run from beginning to end. But Soderbergh adds in enough plot, story flashbacks and intrigue to flesh out the story from being just a mindless action flick. Mallory is a strong and capable character, fighting her way through the self-promotion and self-preservation of the people in charge. The problem may be that maybe the villains in the film aren't as capable as she is.

WORTH: Matinee or Rental

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