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.
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.
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…
Did anyone ever expect Steven Soderbergh to make a straight up, ass-kicking action picture? As eclectic an auteur he is, very few people undoubtedly saw Haywire coming. Blink and you might miss it though, as Soderbergh gives us a swift, punchy kick to the senses with this globe-trotting espionage thriller, propped up with a truly stunning cast of rising stars, old legends and gifted character actors - seriously, half of Hollywood pops up here, such is Soderbergh's pull, and Haywire remains every inch one of his distinguishable pictures; like an art house Bourne film, set to a jazzy, moody David Holmes score, it assaults you with a quick, clear and visceral story about betrayal, centred around Gina Carano's action heroine…
Two years ago today, I logged my first film into Letterboxd. That film was Haywire. I decided to rewatch it again tonight in honor of that day. Here is what I wrote then, in that first entry:
What a great, subdued action movie. A Bourne movie this is not, which was greatly appreciated. Carano gets out-acted a bit, but more than makes up for it during the spectacular fight scenes.
I've gotten a bit more long winded since then in when I write these things, but the sentiment remains the same. I love this movie. Its one of my favorite films of the past five years. I think I've rewatched this more than any other film since its release and…
Some flaws; much better than Salt - Gina sorts the boys (some cast!) out big time.
This review reportedly contains spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Lots of talk about Soderbergh's detached deconstruction of the genre into a lineup of nondescript bodies to pummel, but in 93 minutes, there's still way too much talk concerning bad-guy hierarchy and who sabotaged who. Thinking Soderbergh is hitting the apex of casting real-life professionals as their cinematic counterparts, and I enjoyed the realism of the fight scenes, diegetic exclusion especially unique, but I'm getting moderately tired of the bodily commodity theme. Is there anything differentiating this and Contagion, like at all?
Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire is 93 minutes of pure action with a plot that confounds and confuses while stretching credulity. It stars not a movie star in the aftermath of undergoing a bunch of “fight training,” but rather a genuine fighter training to be an actress. It has been pushed back to a late January release after Soderbergh’s would-be prestige picture Contagion (2011) was released early last fall – normally the kiss of death both critically and at the box office. However, it’s crafted with atypical artfulness (for its genre) by the occasionally masterful chameleon filmmaker, and as such is very involving.
Gina Carano, if the name is unfamiliar to film audiences, is in fact a retired mixed martial arts fighter…
That fight scene with her and Michael "vast bender" Fassbender was cool, with no music or anything. And the stylish, jazzy music was a nice touch the first few times it was used, although it got a bit tedious by the end. Other than that, this was a fairly bog standard double-cross revenge spy flick that was so predictable I felt like I'd seen it before. The cast was mostly good, but wasted by a pretty tedious, clunky script. It proved to be a serviceable, if entirely forgettable 90 minutes that could probably have been spent doing more productive things.
Gina Carano. Steven Soderbergh.
Two people I never thought would work together.
Although the film is problematic, and a little dull in places, it just worked. The film is a little disorientating in the first 20 minutes or so, as the film purposefully makes it unclear on what is completely going on.
The film was a little slow, and actually seemed to come to a halt in places. However the visual style, and fight scenes are enough to keep you entertained.
Soderbergh treats the film like a 60s/70s action film, almost like the era of the Connery Bond film. The music is jazzy, while when the fight scenes go down there is only sounds of fists and punches.
What the Counselor (2013), should have been.
This has some well shot action scenes - Soderbergh avoids short shots and quick cut, it's very smooth and watchable. Unfortunately the action sequences were too long, and ended up becoming quite drawn out, due to this same fluid camera work.
It lacked the underlying tension needed to carry the story. It's a slow paced action/thriller, but coupled with Soderbergh's direction style, this cerebral thriller is ultimately a lacklustre affair.
- 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…
- The Good Shepherd
OK, maybe if you’re using a web site dedicated to cataloging the movies you’ve seen, you probably have seen these…