Lisa Miller

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January 26, 2012
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A 'Smashing' Performance by actress with Reno connections

Gina Carano, the star of "Haywire," is a real-life mixed martial arts fighter. Unlike most waif-like actresses cast in similar roles, at 5-foot-8, 145 pounds, Carano looks like the real McCoy. When she defeats any number of male assailants, her brute strength and fighting ability is stunning.

Director Steven Soderbergh knew what he wanted when he cast Carano - and he got it. She portrays Mallory, an elite operative who has been double-crossed and is trying to find out why. She's no angel, having slept with both bosses and co-workers, but she's heavenly at what she does, and what she does best is kick ass.

In various interviews, Carano said that when offered the part she expected Soderbergh to provide acting lessons for her first major screen role. Instead, the director immersed her in the world of special ops, delivering Carano into the hands of an elite Mossad operative. She received extensive instruction in handling guns and special ops procedures. Since she knew how to fight, Carano led the way in choreographing her hand-to-hand combat scenes.

Her character, Mallory, is poised to leave her employment at a company that makes its money on government contracts, to start a company of her own, when she suddenly finds herself framed as a rogue agent murderer. Who is responsible, and why, is the puzzle that Mallory must solve in order to survive.

A rarity in a man's world, Mallory is calm, confident, and keeps her own counsel. When assigned a job as arm candy, she responds, "I'm not the one to wear a dress," but as it turns out, she fights as well in heels and sequins as she does in sneakers and jeans.

To further obscure the issue of those plotting against Mallory, In addition to her boss and co-workers (played by Ewan McGregor, Channing Tatum and Michael Fassbender), Mallory must suspect her employer's CIA contact (Michael Douglas) and a smooth-talking, State Department functionary (Antonio Banderas). To determine whom she can and can't trust, Mallory finagles her opposition into revealing themselves.

Carano is the daughter of Glenn Thomas Carano (Dallas Cowboys backup quarterback from 1977-1983), and is the granddaughter of Reno Eldorado casino founder Don Carano. She attended Catholic school in Las Vegas before attending both UNR and UNLV, then decided to pursue her heart's desire by becoming a mixed martial arts fighter.

During an interview with Craig Ferguson, she said she was a fighter because "I'd rather have a black eye than be unhappily married with children that hate me."

Though her performance in the film is electrifying, many wonder why it sounds as if someone else is speaking her lines. Carano has explained that Soderbergh did extensive post production work to make her voice sound deeper and more authoritative. Interesting.

Either way, her actions do most of the talking, and where kicking ass is concerned - she's the real deal.


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Jan 26, 2012 12:59PM Published Jan 26, 2012 12:54PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.