According to The Playlist, director Steven Soderbergh, apparently having been swept off his feet by the Dear John trailer, has decided to flesh out his Knockout cast with professional non-emoter Channing Tatum. In case you missed our last story on this project, Knockout is a spy thriller that will star MMA figher Gina Carano as a member of a covert military squad who is double-crossed by someone on her team, leading her on a quest to uncover the guilty parties and, one would imagine, dole out lots of retaliatory ass-kicking. Tatum will have a small part as a member of Carano’s team that reaches out to her once she goes off the grid.
After casting the inexperienced and possibly awful Carano, Soderbergh balanced things out by surrounding her with a proven-to-be-awesome supporting cast, including Michael Douglas, Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, and Dennis Quaid. Obviously, the casting of Tatum throws things out of whack again, but the director is taking steps to remedy this, as, also per The Playlist, Antonio Banderas is close to joining the ensemble as the leader of a European black-ops squad.
Hit the jump for my thoughts on the casting, especially as far as Carano is concerned.
Soderbergh is well-known for working with big-name actors on high-profile projects like the Ocean’s series and Traffic. But, every once in a while, he seems to feel the need to go in the complete opposite direction and surround himself with unknowns or unconventional choices in smaller projects such as last year’s The Girlfriend Experience (in which he cast adult film star Sasha Grey as his leading lady). In this case, he’s merging his methods, bringing an unconventional lead to a high-profile project. And it’ll certainly be interesting to see if Carano’s got what it takes to carry a flick of this magnitude…or, to put it another way, whether or not this decision blows up in the director’s face. However, even if she’s not entirely up to it, Carano’s certainly being afforded a sizable safety net of talent, both in front of and behind the camera, to back her up.