Haywire * * * 1/2

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Director: Steven Soderbergh.
Screenplay: Lem Dobbs.
Starring: Gina Carano, Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Channing Tatum, Bill Paxton, Antonio Banderas, Michael Douglas, Mathieu Kassovitz, Michael Angarano, Anthony Brandon Wong.

With a first-rate cast at his disposal, director Steven Soderbergh, decides to have them play second-fiddle to his unknown lead, Gina Carano – a real, mixed martial arts fighter – who has never acted before. Soderbergh himself is also on new ground with his first foray in the action genre. And the results, I hear you say? The results, happen to be rather impressive. Soderbergh’s gamble pays off.

Mallory Kane (Gina Carano) is a no-nonsense, highly trained, black ops soldier who gets double-crossed during a government security mission. Assassins from across the globe target her every move and are out for the kill but Mallory turns the tables, in her bid for the truth and her survival.

Double-dealing’s, back-stabbing and espionage across international locations have been done many times before – most recently in the Bourne series. This may leave you feeling that your time is being wasted but it’s to Soderbergh’s credit that he still finds some mileage in it. That’s thanks in large, to his independent approach. The film is well shot throughout, with a minimal music score and excellently choreographed action set-pieces. The fisticuffs themselves are even delivered with the sound toned down, making them all the more realistic and Carano’s fighting abilities are very apparent and impressive. Her acting chops may leave a little to be desired but at the end of the day, she’s there to throw her weight around and that’s exactly what she does. The very fine supporting cast also pitch in and Soderbergh manages to get them sharing scenes with one another. It’s always a pet-hate of mine to see an excellently assembled cast that don’t share any screen time. This fulfils on that front. He also knows not to overstay his welcome and with a running time of approx 90mins, this doesn’t waste any time in getting down to the nitty-gritty.

The story is old-hat and the film has come into some mixed reviews but with an eclectic supporting cast of first-rate actors and a heroine (without the use of CGI) that can genuinely bust a few heads, what more do you want from an action film that pretends to be nothing other than just that. Good quick fun.

Mark Walker

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13 Responses to “Haywire * * * 1/2”

  1. Nice review. There’s a chance I’ll see this. I’ve gotten into Steven Soderbergh recently with films such as Ocean’s 11, Solaris, and Contagion. Still have to see his first film.

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    • Sex lies and Videotape, Solaris and Out of Sight remain my favourite Soderbergh films. I find him a bit hit and miss but this was rather good considering some scathing reviews.

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      • Some scathing reviews?! There couldn’t have been that many. The Tomatometer (for Rotten Tomatoes) is at 80% for this one, with 129 fresh reviews and only 32 rotten!

        I guess you already know that Sex, Lies & Videotape was written on a legal pad in 8 days, before going on to win an Audience Award at Sundance, and a Palme d’Or and a FIPRESCI at Cannes? I REALLY want to see it!!

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      • I think the scathing reviews mostly came from the ordinary viewer. The critics seemed to like it. Yes, Sex Lies and Videotape done well award wise. It’s been ages since I seen it but I have good memories of it. I’d liked a rewatch. King Of The Hill is a Soderbergh film I’ve been searching for for a while, ant seem to get my hands on it.

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  2. I had to look this up on IMDB since I would have sworn I had never heard of it before now. Nice review, may have to check this out. Like you, I find Soderbergh to be very hit or miss.

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  3. Nice review. I’m excited to watch this. I love Soderbergh and the fact that he doesn’t make a specific type of movie and is always willing to experiment. Besides, the cast is just amazing.

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  4. sanclementejedi Says:

    Nice review Mark, I think if everyone put out as much effort as Carano this would have been a much better film.

    Agree about the story being a bit of a retread. Thought the action scenes were top notch, nice to see a female action star with some meat on her bones that looks like she could snap my neck.

    I found that jazz score a bit annoying, so glad they ditched it for the fight scenes.

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    • I actually didnt mind the soundtrack. I thought it created a completely different atmosphere than normal, for this type of film. I did, however, find myself asking what the whole point of the film was, as it has been covered so often, but by the end, I found that I was still entertained. Cant ask much more than that.

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  5. Good review Mark. I had a lot of fun with this mainly because of Soderbergh’s style that just oozes cool and hip, while still maintaining that bad-ass feel that all action films should have. The biggest problem here though, was that Carano was way too wooden. Thankfully, she had a nice supporting cast to help her out.

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  6. SUPERB review Mark – great to see us film fans on the same page – keep up the great work đŸ™‚

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