Haywire-attachment0

Haywire

Movie Information

The Story: A privately contracted covert operative goes on the run -- and out for revenge -- after being double-crossed. The Lowdown: While never attempting to reinvent the revenge flick, this is a beautifully crafted film and exactly what you want from an action movie.
Score:

Genre: Action
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: Gina Carano, Ewan McGregor, Channing Tatum, Antonio Banderas, Michael Douglas
Rated: R

Steven Soderbergh is a master craftsmen with an arthouse sensibility, and he spends much of his time making films that are pure entertainment. Yet he also takes the time to experiment, and he seems more than willing to take a real risk on occasion. Haywire manages to straddle these two aesthetics, resulting in a near-perfect revenge flick with a superb cast and style to spare. Soderbergh’s eye for color and composition plays against an almost stoic tone that offsets the movie’s uber-violence.

The best modern comparison I can think of for Haywire is Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill films, but this is selling Haywire short. There’s the same sense of coolness (the ‘60s spy-movie vibe of David Holmes’ score certainly helps) and the same kind of flashback-heavy plotting, but there’s a lack of Tarantino’s bombast and constant need to give nods to other genre films. Haywire is a much simpler kind of movie centered around a handful of action pieces, and under Soderbergh’s slick direction, this creates a kind of classy action movie you rarely see.

But don’t mistake classy for boring. Haywire is incredibly brutal at times—although never sadistic—with action bursting out at the viewer from nowhere. Former mixed-martial-arts star Gina Carano stars as betrayed freelance covert operative Mallory Kane—which at first this might seem like an odd casting decision considering the star-power of the other cast members like Ewan McGregor, Antonio Banderas and Michael Douglas. But what may be unorthodox for Hollywood is hardly out of character for Soderbergh—he’s the same director who cast adult film star Sasha Grey as the lead in The Girlfriend Experience (2009), after all. We learn early on that Mallory—a gun for hire, doing covert jobs for her ex-boyfriend Kenneth’s (McGregor) security firm—has been double-crossed and is on the run. The bulk of the film is spent bringing the audience up-to-speed though flashbacks as to why.

This is a familiar set-up in the action-film world, but screenplay by Lem Dobbs (who’s worked with Soderbergh in the past with The Limey (1999) and Kafka (1991)) is nevertheless intelligent, and has a welcome, deadpan sense of humor. It helps that the supporting cast contains the kind of players that can make almost anything entertaining. This is prime stuff, from McGregor’s villain to a very small, but excellent turn from Antonio Banderas—not to mention a surprisingly likable role for Channing Tatum. The supporting cast also helps to offset Carano’s lack of dramatic range, but she’s helped even more by a role that doesn’t require very much from her.

Of course, Carano’s acting skills are not the reason she’s in this movie: It’s her athleticism that’s the draw, as the action scenes are clearly tailored to her skills as an MMA fighter. Soderbergh shoots these scenes with little fuss—normally just keeping the camera in place and only making edits when necessary—leaving us with a movie free of “shakycam” and quick cuts. By allowing the performers to perform, and the fight choreographer to simply craft an action sequence, Soderbergh has created a rare modern action film that doesn’t rely on bluster, sleight-of-hand post-production and jumbled editing to be exciting. As straight entertainment, Haywire’s hard to beat. Rated R for some violence.

 

SHARE

14 thoughts on “Haywire

  1. Xanadon't

    Dammit Justin, I’m already behind, having not seen The Artist yet and with A Dangerous Method and Albert Nobbs landing here this week. And now you’ve gone and confirmed my sneaking suspicion that this demands my attention too! I’d held out on the idea as long as possible, but “resulting in a near-perfect revenge flick with a superb cast and style to spare” makes it official.

    Hey, but congrats on getting to review a good film. Seems like a long time ago that Drive opened.

  2. Justin Souther

    I’d held out on the idea as long as possible, but “resulting in a near-perfect revenge flick with a superb cast and style to spare” makes it official.

    The further I get away from the film, the more I think it might be perfect. At least for what it wants to be.

    Hey, but congrats on getting to review a good film. Seems like a long time ago that Drive opened.

    Into the Abyss snuck in there, too, though this and Drive are more my cup of tea. Or, rather, I’m more likely to want to watch them more than once.

  3. Ken Hanke

    The further I get away from the film, the more I think it might be perfect. At least for what it wants to be.

    Well, that’s not all that surprising. Soderbergh is usually at his best when he’s being simply entertaining. For pure entertainment value, it’s hard to beat his Ocean’s Eleven, so why not this?

    But I’m annoyed with you boys, because your starting to make me feel I need to go see the damned thing. Makes me feel less bad about fobbing that whale movie off on Justin in the next little while, though.

  4. Lisa Watters

    I am a big fan of intelligent action films – and of Soderbergh’s work in general – but while this film was satisfying enough while I was watching it I found it sort of forgettable afterwards. In fact, while talking to a fellow film buff later about it I didn’t feel like I could say at all, ‘You got to go see this one.’

    I also thought the weak link in this film was Ewan McGregor and an example of bad casting. Not only was it totally unbelievable that his character had once had a romantic connection to Gina Carano’s (sorry, she was just too bad ass) but he was not a convincing villain at all.

    Them are my two cents …

  5. Xanadon't

    But I’m annoyed with you boys, because your starting to make me feel I need to go see the damned thing.

    Well, hate to say it Ken (wait- no I don’t), but I would also now urge you to see the damn thing. It’s a really nifty flick of the kind we don’t often see much of with early-in-the-year wide-releases. Justin’s observation that “Soderbergh

  6. Ken Hanke

    Well, hate to say it Ken (wait- no I don’t), but I would also now urge you to see the damn thing.

    Having just sat through Tarkovsky’s The Sacrifice, I’m more inclined to undertake the purely entertaining. I’m not disputing the quality of the Tarkovsky film, mind you, but it has sufficiently depressed me that I find myself actually looking forward to tomorrow’s double-bill of One for the Money and Liam Slugs a Wolf just for the break.

  7. Xanadon't

    Ha! Anyone that sits through a Tarkovsky picture and doesn’t profess a desire to watch Neeson clock a wolf in the snout immediately afterward is a bald-faced liar.

  8. Ken Hanke

    Anyone that sits through a Tarkovsky picture and doesn’t profess a desire to watch Neeson clock a wolf in the snout immediately afterward is a bald-faced liar.

    While admitting that Tarkovsky can be a great filmmaker, he is almost never an enjoyable one, and sitting through one always makes me think of Veronica Lake’s line Sullivan’s Travels — “There’s nothing like deep-dish movie to drive you out into the open.”

  9. Justin Souther

    I think MacGregor’s character works better if you’re able to view him as insecure, especially when you take into account that the movie is based around him attempting to murder his ex-girlfriend. We’re told that she’s going to take all of his business, so he’s obviously less talented than her. Plus, we consistently see him mismanaging things. In this way, the fact that he’s physically less impressive than her plays into this. If this is why he’s attempting to off her, we’re never told, but it makes sense, since he’s never out-and-out evil, just sort of sniveling and mostly incompetent.

  10. Edwin Arnaudin

    My first thought was, “It’s like KILL BILL, except more straightforward…and probably better.” I’m a Tarantino fan, but it’s difficult to support all of his tangents. He reels them in on his better work, but all of the sermonizing and obscure references in the KILL BILL films get old fast.

    HAYWIRE = THE LIMEY + OCEAN’S 11 + (the sound and style of) OUT OF SIGHT. It’s a Soderbergh greatest hits reel, yet is firmly its own film. If I hadn’t known Carano was an MMA fighter, I’d have thought she was simply an extremely athletic actress. She does a good job and I never found her lack of acting experience distracting.

  11. Xanadon't

    She does a good job and I never found her lack of acting experience distracting.

    I definitely thought some of her lines came out pretty flat, sometimes even silly sounding. But I was pleasantly surprised at how much emotion she was able to convey when silent, through facial expressions, a well-timed flash of the eye, and such.

  12. Edwin Arnaudin

    I definitely thought some of her lines came out pretty flat, sometimes even silly sounding.

    I went in expecting to feel that way, but got so caught up in the film that her delivery never stood out. Fighting and being an American Gladiator in front of audiences must have prepared her enough for the role. As you say, little facial acting goes a long way. That she rarely says more than one sentence at a time also helps.

  13. Ken Hanke

    That she rarely says more than one sentence at a time also helps.

    John Wayne kept going for years on that one.

Leave a Reply