Steven Soderbergh loves making movies about deception, more specifically, lies. Characters lying to each other, lying to themselves, being lied to, etc. Out of Sight and the Ocean's movies are about con-men, the characters of Erin Brockovich and Contagion are being lied to by bureaucracies, and many the characters of The Good German and Traffic are living double lives. The characters of The Limey, Solaris, and Che are somewhat an exception as they are having trouble with the truth. The characters of The Girlfriend Experience and The Informant are lying to themselves (although one is doing so because of mental illness). I think the title Sex, Lies, and Videotape is self-explanatory.
Of course some of these categories that I quickly through these films into overlap. My point I want to get to (and this part isn't exactly my words though I agree with them), is that when a character is lying, being lied to, etc., it can raise the tension. Kind of like a variation of the Hitchcockian idea of the bomb under the table not being the centerpiece, but other factors that lead to greater suspense that will play with the expectations of the audience. Espionage/spy-dramas just really compliment a lot of what I'm talking about by the vey nature of their stories. So Soderbergh in all his genre-hopping glory decided to give us his own Bourne-esque story and the result is a film that is unique to stand on its own and frankly just damn fun and exciting.
First thing that stood out, aside from Soderbergh's usual cinematography, was the unique sound design. This is a very quiet film. You hear punches landing and the characters breathing heavily, but when they are in a crowded room or a busy street, you just hear their voices and little else. It puts you right with them in their own little contained world of trust-issues and double crosses. The film had a uniquely jazzy score from David Holmes (Ocean's Eleven) that certainly played on the idea of this being a caper/spy movie in genre only. It made you take note that this was a film of that genre, but a stylized one by an ambitious director.
As for the story by Lem Dobbs (The Limey), it certainly wasn't the most engrossing, but it proved to be entertaining particularly in how it highlights the film's star, MMA fighter Gina Carano, as this charisma-lacking, no-bullshit kind of woman. In a sense, that helps Carano's portrayal of Mallory Kane as it doesn't require her to have lenghthy dialogue and instead it just lets us marvel at her prowess and physicality (the hotel room fight being a great example). The rest of the cast is full of a several notable names- Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Bill Paxton, Channing Tatum, Antonio Banderas, and Michael Douglas. I kind of like this idea of having such notable actors star in small parts. You could argue they are being under-used, but they do lend a level of credibility and experience to the material when they show up no matter how briefly.