Haywire

Mallory Kane is a covert operative for hire who works for various governments throughout the world. After saving a Chinese journalist who has been taken hostage, she is sent to Dublin on another assignment where things go horrible awry. Soon her life is in danger and she doesn’t know who she can trust. The star of Haywire is Gina Carano, a former mixed martial arts fighter. Surrounding her are accomplished actors only an auteur like Steven Soderbergh could assemble. Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Channing Tatum, Antonio Banderas, and Michael Douglas all show up in supporting parts. Given her rough and tumble background, Carano is a surprisingly stunning beauty. The fight scenes in this thriller have an organic, authentic feel that makes it clear she was selected for her athletic prowess over her thespian skills. Carano doesn’t give an emotionally engaging performance but I don’t hold that against her – that’s not mandatory for these types of pictures. She’s essentially required to kick butt and look pretty doing it, which she accomplishes.

This is a traditional low budget B movie at heart, dressed up in a 70s style aesthetic. Let’s face it, that’s an impressive cast to begin with. Now let’s address the look of the production. Every scene is beautifully composed and shot by Steven Soderbergh (credited here as Peter Andrews). Visual technique goes a long way in maintaining the audience’s interest in the story. The jazzy score by David Holmes is a playful romp. The smooth horns and piano elevate the events on screen. The violent punches and kicks seem much more sophisticated backed by the light music.

The plot is convoluted but again, it’s a spy thriller, so kind of expected.  Therein lies the problem. Not much happens that you wouldn‘t already expect in an actioner of this sort. Mallory attempts to make sense of her situation and things progress rather predictably. There are double crossings and ambiguous loyalties which must be resolved. Whether or not she will accomplish her mission is never a question. She is too capable for us to be concerned with that. The issue becomes, who‘s responsible and how quickly will she find out? In fact, the answer is very quickly as the movie runs only 93 minutes. It’s efficient and that’s probably a good thing in this case.

This is Steven Soderbergh Lite. I suspect he never intended this to be some grand statement about the life of a secret agent. There’s little in the way of innovation here. Female led action films can’t call themselves cutting edge anymore simply by virtue of the protagonist’s sex. Resident Evil, Underworld, Wanted, Salt and Hanna are just a few recent titles that fit this description. Take your pick, the trend is quite common (and profitable) these days. In the hands of a lesser director, this might have been less successful, but Soderbergh’s artistic touches (cast, cinematography and music) manage to push this adventure into a satisfactory time filler.

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11 Responses to “Haywire”

  1. It’s going to be on my best of list for 2012 … in 12 months 🙂

  2. good review mark.havnt seen the movie.but I agree with the female led action films not being cutting edge anymore.quite frankly, ever since Camerons aliens & terminator 2, the female led action films that followed havnt been impressive at all.they were just entertaining. Wanted is highly overrated, I feel. I think filmmakers have lost touch with how to make these kind of films. What are youre thoughts on this?

    • I enjoyed Wanted, Salt and Hanna. It depends on the script not who’s starring in it for me.

      • Those films-salt, wanted, and hanna were entertaining. But I just think that combining sexy women and martial art has become a redundant, ineffective formula.i guess haywire was saved by soderberghs style.will watch it anyway.thanks

  3. Although the cast looks amazing, I guess I’ll wait for netflix. Great review, by the way.

  4. We’re basically in agreement on all of this, but David Holmes score got me so excited right as the film opened that I scored it a bit higher.

  5. Nice review, think we are largely on the same page with this on (as opposed to our views on Moneyball, lol), but i think you liked Haywire a little more than i did, here’s a link to my review on our site: http://mondaymovieshow.wordpress.com/2012/01/22/review-haywire/ (sorry for the shameless plug).

  6. Nice review. I’m excited for Haywire. That list of actors is just amazing.

  7. Finally going to see Haywire tonight! Nice review

  8. Overall I enjoyed Haywire more than I disliked it, mostly for the cast sans Gina Carano & her terrible acting. Unfortunately the fight scenes were slow & obvious to where you could see the actors move deliberately to aid their co-star in kicking their ass. The story moved at a snails pace, so much so, that during a second viewing (with a friend who hadn’t seen it), I actually fell asleep for 15mins & realized I’d missed nothing. Plus, the music sounded like it was recycled from one of Soderbergh’s “Ocean” films & in a film as grainy as this, it made it feel a bit like old 70’s porn. I will undoubtedly buy this film, if for just McGregor & Fassbender, but I’ll have to wait for it to be on sale on amazon.com.

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