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…
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.
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…
I was expecting Steven Soderberg's version of a BOURNE film here, but he didn't bring enough of an art-house edge for me to call it that. He does make a barely passable spy film with some lady who is some kind of real-life UFC or combat personality. Whoever she is, she's good, and nice to see her doing what looks like all of her own stunts as a result. Soderberg must have had a blast working with her.
And the supporting cast really throw the package together nicely, making the thriller an enjoyable watch: Antonio Banderas, Michael Douglas, Ewan Macgregor, Michael Fassbender and even Channing Tatum. Should Bill Paxton get a mention? Do people care if he's in a movie anymore? Well, in case that answer is ‘yes’, he's here, too.
The action is good, and it's really the only reason to watch ... but I expected a bit more from a guy like Soderberg.
Still mad at Soderbergh for this.
Gina Carano. Wow. Just... Wow.
-These fistfights are absolutely brutal. They hurt to watch.
-Soderbergh's trademark "cool, slick, action flick" game is as on point as it ever is.
-Soderbergh must've called in a few favors on this one. Bill Paxton, Michael Douglas, Michael Fassbender, Channing Tatum, Ewan McGregor round out the small cast, mostly in bit parts. That's a damn fine cast.
-The plot is useless, which wouldn't be a problem for an action movie if it wasn't so magnified. Nothing is ever at stake. There is no urgency.
-Gina Carano kicks some serious ass, but she can't act worth a lick. Where was she for Expendables 3?
-Asskicking is too far and few between. I would've liked to see Carano go…
A truly riveting and complex thriller about a contract hit-woman who is betrayed by an organization as she seeks revenge as it features a fantastic performance from Gina Carano.
Ocean's 11 meets Casino Royale meets Kill Bill. If you're still on the fence, what if I told you that Bill Paxton plays the gentler, more loving brother of his character from Edge of Tomorrow? No? What if I told you that Channing Tatum pours hot coffee at a woman in the first sequence? Still not convinced? There's a backwards car chase through a snowy forest which ends in a wonderfully bloody way you will not be able to anticipate? You're still hesitant? Here's the finishing blow, only one word: Fassbender.
Feminism, by any means necessary.
Even while I was appreciating "Haywire" I found myself feeling a little dissatisfied. The components are good. Gina Carano get a good start in the movies with a role tailored to her strengths with the support of a superb cast. It lets her martial skills and native charisma lead the way while she's learning the ropes as an actress. The jazzy underplayed score snazzily counterpoints the violence. "Haywire", though seems to be attempting to fall in between the realistic and super-heroic action worlds but the result is a half-breed; welcome in neither.
98% beautiful action! If it wasn't for Channing Tatum (I just don't like the guy) I might have given it five stars.
- North by Northwest
- The Birds
- Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
- Casino Royale
- If a Tree Falls: A Story of the…
- War Horse
We all had one review that began our Letterboxd addiction. I'm just curious what everyone else's was...
Some will be…
- Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
- Glengarry Glen Ross
- The Great Escape
- L.A. Confidential
- The Thin Red Line
With The Avengers hitting screens next week I thought it a good time to highlight some other films with amazing…