Steven Soderbergh is a peculiar director; almost Miike-esque in his productivity, his work tends to fall into either the 'payday entertainments' or the 'arthouse cool' category. This is much toward the former as you can get. The main star is a mixed-martial-artist for heaven's sake - not exactly what you'd have had in store for the director of sex, lies and videotape, but there you go.
I'll keep this one fairly brief anyway. It's a kind of Bourne-ish globetrotting action drama; Mallory Kane (Gina Carano) is the person who does the CIA's dirty work for them yadayadayada; in fact the plot doesn't really matter. Suffice for me to tell you that there are plenty of gunfights, scrapping, whizzing, banging and popping to keep you plenty entertained with challenging you one iota (unless you're such a knuckle-scraper that having a woman as lead in an action movie constitutes 'edgy'). Actually, because Soderbergh plays it completely straight makes the film more successful than, say, last year's Hanna or 2010's Salt precisely because it eschews any cod-arthouse shenanigans and sticks resolutely to the action. And clocking at a tight and highly Slut-approved 93 minutes, I enjoyed this a fair bit, or at least I think I did - I picked up my brain along with my coat, hat and umbrella on leaving.
So, the direction is suitably kinetic, David Arnold's score (recalling Bullitt) is particularly excellent, the production design is creative, there are some lovely choreographed set-pieces, Carano is solid and various of the supporting players are very good (especially Michael Douglas and Antonio Banderas). On the downside, Ewan McGregor once again fails to impress with an American accent and the plot is both acceptably stupid and bewilderingly complex; it also rather uneven - the denouement, when it comes, actually feels like the second act, and - crucially - we're lacking a proper villain: from the off, nobody ever feels like a legitimate threat the Carano's badass self.
To be fair, though, the brainless thriller has fallen on hard times recently; directors are falling over themselves to throw meta-knowingness and winky comic turns into their muscle-car flicks, thus thoroughly undermining the point. Bizarrely, it's taken an arthouse director, bred of the Sundance/October/Miramax glory days, to show them where they're going wrong.