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'Haywire' 10th Anniversary Of Gina Carano Kicking Ass And Looking Good Doing It Before She Fumbled The Bag

By Brian Richards | Film | February 1, 2022 |

By Brian Richards | Film | February 1, 2022 |


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Remember when it was actually easy to like Gina Carano and to support her work?

Long before she completely fumbled the bag and made it so that Disney and Lucasfilm refused to touch her with a thirty-nine-and-a-half-foot pole, Gina was a mixed martial-arts fighter who competed in Strikeforce and in EliteXC from 2006 to 2009, where she fought and defeated other fighters such as Elaina Maxwell, Julie Kenzie, Tonya Evinger, and Kelly Kobold. It wasn’t until she fought and lost to Cris Cyborg in August of 2009 that Carano decide to end her career as a MMA fighter and move on to other things. She decided to go into acting and went on to appear in such little-known cult films as Ring Girls and Blood and Bone, as well as in the reality series Fight Girls, and in cut scenes for the video game Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3. After seeing Carano compete in one of her MMA matches, and also wanting to find another project to focus on when negotiations for directing Moneyball fell through, director Steven Soderbergh decided to seek her out and inquire as to whether she might be interested in acting for one of his films. Carano was interested, and the two of them collaborated on the film Haywire, which opened in theaters on January 20, 2012.

Mallory Kane (Carano) is a black-ops agent who works for a private security company that is run by Kenneth (Ewan McGregor). After rescuing a Chinese national named Jiang who was held hostage in Barcelona, it becomes clear that Mallory is planning to quit Kenneth’s agency to open her own shop and that most of Kenneth’s business will leave with her. When Mallory is assigned by Kenneth to work with Paul (Michael Fassbender), an MI6 agent, and pose as his wife for a meet-and-greet mission in Dublin, she soon finds the corpse of the very same Chinese national she had previously rescued and discovers that Kenneth (with Paul’s help) has set her up to have her killed and her reputation destroyed. Unfortunately for Kenneth, and for Rodrigo (Antonio Banderas) — another agent collaborating with Kenneth to set this all in motion — Mallory is alive, pissed-off, and willing to hunt Kenneth to the ends of the Earth in order to take down Kenneth and clear her name.

It’s easy to see the trailer for Haywire and think that it will be a feature-film version of Alias, and that Mallory Kane will be just like Sydney Bristow. However, Haywire is the complete antithesis to everything that Alias used to do and do well. It’s a stripped-down-to-the-core spy thriller with no gadgets, no disguises (though Mallory having to wear an expensive dress with heels is something she’d consider a disguise, as she barely chooses to dress like that outside of work), no over-the-top action scenes with lots of explosions, and very little sex. If anything, Haywire is less like Alias and the James Bond 007 series and more like David Mamet’s Spartan, and especially Greg Rucka’s groundbreaking comic-book series Queen & Country, which was spy fiction that made being a spy (particularly a female one) look as brutal and terrifying and unglamorous as possible.

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None of this stops Haywire from being thrilling and enjoyable as we see Mallory uncovering the truth behind her betrayal, and doing everything possible to evade capture from both the local police departments and also other operators sent by Kenneth. If there’s any director who knows how to play around in different genres and hit the bull’s eye damn near every time when it comes to entertaining an audience, it’s Steven Soderbergh. Specifically with the action scenes where he gets to shoot Gina Carano taking down the enemies in her path like the Tasmanian Devil. For instance, the film starts with Mallory meeting her colleague/sometime lover Aaron (Channing Tatum) in a coffee shop. When he realizes that she’s not going to leave with him so that he could possibly kill her, he splashes a mug of hot coffee in her face, and the two of them immediately begin beating the sh-t out of each other in the middle of the diner and in front of all of the customers. Aaron ends up with a broken arm before being pistol-whipped into unconsciousness, and Mallory ends up in the company of Scott (Michael Angarano), a twentysomething customer in the coffee shop who attempted to stop Aaron from killing her, by jumping in his car and asking him to fix her injuries, before explaining to him who she is and how this all happened while driving as far away from the authorities as possible.

Then there’s the scene in which Mallory and Paul head back up to their hotel room right after Mallory has found Jiang’s body and realized that she’s being set up to take the fall for his death. Paul attempts to knock her out the moment they set foot inside, and they are soon pummeling each other throughout every square inch of their hotel room. Despite the fact that his last few moments involve having Mallory’s legs wrapped around his throat and choking him into near-unconsciousness, it only gets worse for Paul from there.

Soderbergh assembles a great cast for Haywire, including Channing Tatum as Aaron; Ewan McGregor as Kenneth, who is so smug and unlikeable as the film progresses that you can’t help but cheer when he’s finally confronted by Mallory; Antonio Banderas as Rodrigo; Michael Douglas as Coblenz, the high-ranking government operative who is secretly relying on Mallory to take down Kenneth so he can take over his agency; and the late, great Bill Paxton as John Kane, Mallory’s concerned and protective father.

The majority of Haywire rests on the shoulders of Gina Carano as Mallory Kane. Despite her limited acting range (which is possibly why nearly all of her dialogue is dubbed over with the speaking voice of Laura San Giacomo, who worked with Soderbergh on Sex, Lies, and Videotape), Carano is able to convey enough charisma and laser-focused determination as Mallory that you’re instantly drawn her from the moment she first appears onscreen. We see her lurking in the distance, a look of patient fury on her face as if she is watching her prey from afar before pouncing on it, until we realize that she’s actually looking at the coffee shop where she is about to meet Aaron. We then get to see Carano truly come alive as she goes toe-to-toe with her opponents and show off the extensive fighting skills for which she is known.

Carano’s performance soon grabbed Hollywood’s attention, and it wasn’t long after Haywire that she was offered other roles, including DSS agent Riley Hicks in Fast & Furious 6, a combat android named Danica in the short-lived FOX series Almost Human, and as ruthless mutant Angel Dust in Deadpool.

(Why yes, I am still mad at FOX for canceling Almost Human instead of giving it more support and more time to grow.)

In 2019, Carano took on the biggest role of her career, as Rebel shocktrooper-turned-mercenary Cara Dune on the Disney Plus series The Mandalorian, and she went on to appear recurrently on the show through both seasons.

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This is the part of the story where Gina Carano decided to fumble the bag and f-ck everything up.

It started back in 2020 when she was asked by fans to show her support for the Black Lives Matter protests happening around the country. Instead, she responded like Bartleby the Scrivener and said, “I prefer not to.” Or to be more accurate, what she had said was: “In my experience, screaming at someone that they are a racist when they are indeed NOT a racist & any post and/or research you do will show you those exact facts, then I’m sorry, these people are not ‘educators.’ They are cowards and bullies.”

Then, when she was asked and encouraged to share her pronouns in her Twitter bio, which is a regular practice for Twitter users in order to avoid being misgendered (and as someone who spent years on Twitter being mistaken as a white twentysomething woman, it happens more often than you’d think), she responded by posting “boop/bop/beep” as her pronouns, which was seen as her mocking and insulting the trans community. When her mentions blew up with many an angry tweet, Carano replied: “They’re mad cuz I won’t put pronouns in my bio to show my support for trans lives. After months of harassing me in every way. I decided to put 3 VERY controversial words in my bio…beep/bop/boop. I’m not against trans lives at all. They need to find less abusive representation.”

Later that same year, Carano tweeted this regarding the presidential election:

This led to a lot of people wondering and asking why she would tweet that, and why she would tweet something so inflammatory that sounded an awful lot like something Donald Trump would say about the election and its results.

She then went on to encourage her fans to follow her on Parler, a social media app that is infamous for being popular with conservatives and Trump supporters, particularly the ones who unleashed a terrorist attack on the Capitol building on January 6, 2021. And she also tweeted memes such as these, in which she discouraged the idea of people wearing masks to protect themselves from COVID-19 during the pandemic.

The final nail in the coffin for Gina Carano’s career came when she decided to share this image and quote on her Instagram page.

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Right after her post went public, the hashtag #FireGinaCarano was created and used by numerous Star Wars fans who wanted her gone, who didn’t want her hateful views to be a part of the universe that they loved and held dear, and who would rather see the role of Cara Dune recast and played by someone who is a lot less hateful and close-minded.

Eventually, Disney and Lucasfilm heard what was being said loud and clear and announced last February that Gina Carano was fired and would no longer be playing Cara Dune on The Mandalorian or any other Star Wars property.

“Gina Carano is not currently employed by Lucasfilm and there are no plans for her to be in the future,” a Lucasfilm spokesperson said in a statement. “Nevertheless, her social media posts denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities are abhorrent and unacceptable.”

Carano has also been dropped as a client by UTA, an agency spokesperson confirms.

That included the Star Wars series that was allegedly being developed to focus on her character, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

According to sources, Lucasfilm planned to unveil Carano as the star of her own Disney+ series during a December investor’s day presentation but scrapped those plans following her November tweets. Multiple Mandalorian spinoffs are in the works from executive producers Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni, including Rangers of the New Republic, which could have potentially starred Carano.

After the latest round of social media posts, the decision to cut ties with the actor came swiftly.

There were plenty of Star Wars fans who were happy about this news, and there were plenty of other Star Wars fans who were anything but happy and saw Carano being fired as yet another example of “cancel culture” and free speech being endangered by people being “woke” and acting like SJWs and all of the usual bullsh-t that the fuckboys and Pick-Mes from the “Get Woke, Go Broke” corner of the Internet love to say with such depressing predictability. If anyone was expecting Gina Carano to apologize, to see the error of her ways and work her way back into the good graces of her fans who don’t like to wave confederate flags and draw swastikas onto buildings while marching for their freedom, that did not happen. Instead, she decided to work with The Daily Wire, the conservative media company run by Ben Shapiro, and begin production on the film Terror on the Prairie, which is based on the novel “White Knuckle” by The Hitcher and Blue Steel screenwriter Eric Red, and is about a woman who survives an attempted murder by a serial-killer trucker known as “White Knuckle” and teams up with another truck driver to catch the killer after the police fail to do so. It was also announced that Carano will be playing a Secret Service agent in the anti-Joe Biden propaganda film My Son Hunter, which is still attempting to raise its $2.5 million budget.

So…yeah. If you were wondering what Gina Carano is up to, and how she intends on keeping busy after losing out on regular paychecks from Disney and Lucasfilm, there’s your answer. Say what you will about Gal Gadot (and sweet chocolate Christ, the Internet has said a lot), but remember when there were people online who wanted to see Gina Carano as Wonder Woman? When those same people wanted the equally transphobic sh-twhistle that is Ronda Rousey to play Captain Marvel, despite the fact that her own acting runs the gamut of emotions from A to A? Yeah. Thank any and all deities of your choice that those particular bullets were dodged. If there’s one thing that comic-book movies really don’t need, it’s actors with problematic views who feel the need to publicly share those problematic views playing characters that the fans love.

If you want to watch Steven Soderbergh show off his directorial skills in the action/espionage genre (and if you’re willing and able to do so without rolling your eyes at Gina Carano for all ninety-three minutes of its runtime), then Haywire is for you. If you’d rather watch something else that’s more your brand of whiskey, and not get your eyeballs stuck in your forehead from rolling them too hard at seeing Gina Carano onscreen, well…you can watch Zoë Kravitz in Soderbergh’s next film, Kimi, which premieres on HBO Max on February 10.

Haywire is now streaming on Hulu and on Amazon Prime Video.

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Brian Richards is a Staff Contributor. You can follow him on Twitter.



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