This list was inspired by a conversation on the March 2nd/9th editions of Mark Kermode & Simon Mayo's film review, where…
They left her no choice.
Mallory Kane is a highly trained operative who works for a government security contractor in the dirtiest, most dangerous corners of the world. After successfully freeing a Chinese journalist held hostage, she is double crossed and left for dead by someone close to her in her own agency. Suddenly the target of skilled assassins who know her every move, Mallory must find the truth in order to stay alive.
Haywire was an action thriller from the highly regarded Steven Soderbergh back in 2011. It had quite an impressive cast including Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Channing Tatum, Michael Douglas, and Antonio Banderas. It also starred Gina Carano in the lead role, who was a successful Mixed Martial Artist and this film gives her a vehicle to showcase some her impressive fighting techniques, and potentially jump-start her acting career as a female action star.
Carano plays Mallory Kane, a freelance covert operative, who - as part of her firm - is hired to rescue a hostage in Spain. This appears to go according to plan, the mission ends and the hostage is rescued. Mallory is then sent on another mission to…
Feels like an art-house action movie. Directed extremely well with many interesting and creative shots and moments. The music is fantastic, as well as the scenes *without* music. Editing is great, cinematography is beautiful. A nice assembly of talented, high-profile actors and a very solid turn by Gina Carano, who is a great screen presence and an absolute force. I truly believe she could kick everybody's ass. The fight choreography is stellar. The scene in the hotel room with Carano and Fassbender might be the greatest hand-to-hand combat scene in film history.
So...what went wrong?
Well, the script is just so god damn awful.
Get the script right, and everything else is icing. Fuck the script up, and all you get is empty calories.
Haywire, or as it is better known 'Butch chick running around for hours in various cities with cool, swanky, used to death music in the background intermixed with a couple of fight scenes'
Surely there must be a plot? Nope, classic case of style over substance. Films like this need to have some sort of original idea story-wise. Haywire's plot borders on the senile, it is that obtuse. And it clearly thinks its viewers are morons as well as it has the urgent need to explain everything we already know.
I like Soderbergh, but he really overplays his hand here. A film like this cannot justify its existence by style and a supposedly cool soundtrack alone. It has to have suspense, shocks, involvement, in short, a plot. The only teeny, tiny merits I find here are a couple of cool and well-directed fight scenes. And that's it, really.
I must be honest and say that I had never heard of Gina Carano. Steven Soderbergh's leading lady in this conspiracy thriller certainly has some talent in the kicking arse department, but she isn't the most natural actress in the world. She did the action stuff well and even showed skinnier Hollywood starlets how to fill a pair of jeans and T-shirt with a fuller figure.
Soderbergh's smaller films have always been interesting affairs. From the likes of "The Limey" or "The Good German", very underrated in my opinion, he can take something that isn't exactly cutting edge or topical and make it work. "Haywire" does have a bit of a B-movie feel to it, but has a support cast…
Despite the rather lukewarm reception I was looking forward to Haywire mainly because it reunited director Steven Soderbergh with screenwriter Lem Dobbs; their first collaboration since the excellent and underrated, The Limey. Sadly something went amiss during this most recent creative partnership.
There is something refreshing about its stripped back and minimalist style. The story may feature the odd double-cross along the way but it is uncomplicated and straight to the point (in fact the explanation for the betrayal is so briskly delivered it is bordering on an afterthought). Stylistically it reminded me of Le Samourai, even in the way characters are so vaguely sketched, yet where Jean-Pierre Melville’s film is a masterpiece this ends up merely being a missed…
Liked this the first time I saw it but have to confess to fighting sleep a bit at the time. (That has a lot to do with parenthood and nothing to do with the film.) Second time around I found myself wishing Soderbergh would make three of these, like he did with the OCEANS movies.
Ugh. The cast does fine for what there given to work with and the fight sequences are well choreographed but Haywire just didn't work for me. There no character development or all that much of a story, its just all action and the film feels lifeless and hollow whenever the action isn't on screen. Gina Carano just isn't a good actress either. Haywire is a boring, dull and unimaginative action thriller that wastes its talented cast.
Interesting one this. The direction is reminiscent of the Oceans films, I thought - a touch of the caper. But the film itself is much different - shadowy with gritty chase and fight scenes. Doesn't fully work.
However, it's very entertaining with a very good lead performance from Gina Carano. It's stocked with excellent actors too (although they seemed to think they were acting in different films!). The script is minimal and I couldn't follow the plot until the slightly weird recap at the end.
But in the end, that's not really the point. It's a thrill ride: all heads crashing off furniture, global locales and roof top chases.
The female Bourne.
Essentially MMA fight porn, or like one of those old movies where skaters are being chased by feds as a vehicle to do lots of stunt scenes.
Standard plot... but with a slight more beliavable action than average.
To be fair, he was working on two other films when he made this, so...
While the film as a whole didn't stand out quite as much on a repeat viewing, there is still something quite unique and subdue as Soderbergh attempts a genre film, the opening Barcelona sequence is still a brilliant piece of cinema and while the film might not reach those heights again later on in the movie, there's never a dull moment and its a briskly paced film despite its clear restraint of glossy noisy action bombardment from the director. A great ending and a genre film that does stand out from the crowd as feeling very fresh and unique.
I wish Soderbergh was still making movies if only to see what non-actors he'd choose to next showcase in a precise and gorgeous aesthetic triumph of a genre movie. Put another way: Haywire is the Girlfriend Experience of action movies.
If you ever wondered what Mission Impossible or Kill Bill would have been like if made by Soderbergh, now you have the answer. The fight scenes are quite efficient but the formulaic plot holds no surprises, with an irregular pacing and apathetic action scenes.
Afgezet na 45 min.
We all had one review that began our Letterboxd addiction. I'm just curious what everyone else's was...
Some will be…
This list combines the two checklists The A.V. Club published last year: