AV Club's 100 best films of the decade thus far.
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.
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 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…
The problem of Haywire is the poor script, which is for me is a punch in the face because I actually like Lem Dobbs' previous stuff and especially his first collaboration with director Steven Soderbergh back in '99. Not devaluing the effect of Steven's direction, Lem's great writing was actually the main reason why The Limey worked so well; in sum it is a great crime story with great characters, awesome dialogue and a fine dark humour. However, the same does not happen in their latest collaboration, I don't know what happened, but Dobbs' writing is really poor here - the plot is both very messy and too simple in substance to work, the story isn't exceptional in any way…
Very linear. Very bland. Not much to write home about.
This was such a stiff, wooden board of a movie, with a few impressively choreographed fight sequences interspersed throughout.
Honestly, I don't hate it. Its Soderberg pretty like the Ocean's series but centered around a charisma-less sea donkey.
A lean, slick action thriller with a refreshing sprinkle of bone crunching realism. Think of it as a kind of Mission: Possible.
Slow burn, but delightfully limited actioner. Steven Soderbergh chooses to shoot the action here in a very stagnant fashion with very limited cuts, which allows for more more focus on the fighting skills of the actors. This works quite well for the star Gina Carano, who exhibits her MMA training wonderfully throughout, while at the same time managing to be vulnerable and determined despite her near flawless action performances. The rest of the cast is a powerhouse, but are uneven in terms of how they're used, though none of them are quite as miscast as Antonio Banderas as a stuffy DC goon with a beard that does little to nothing. The script has clear lulls in the plot, which drive the pace of the film to a halt at multiple points. Still, it's consistently engaging enough to showcase these actors and the action quite well.
I didn't register the prominent (shot centred) serpent on the streetpole flag outside of the Dublin hotel—when Mallory and Paul first pull up in the taxi from the airport—in my first viewing of HAYWIRE. Talk about visual prefiguring of a character and location!
Still dig the underplayed action choreography. Soderbergh eschews glam-action for a set of fights and stunts which—barring one fall from a rooftop—Carano did all herself. For me this works in favour of the film because, no doubt there is some messy fighting, but you can tell that Carano is actually doing it all, and that is DAMNED impressive.
Lem Dobbs' (Dark City, The Limey) narrative is lean and smartly plotted, not relying on a myriad of twists…
The debate on whether or not Gina Carano's voice was dubbed over is highly topical. I didn't really care. The action in this movie is some of the most steady action I have ever scene. Quite a cast for Carano to work with and I thought she pulled it off nicely.
McGregor, Fassbender, Douglas, Paxton, and Banderas? Impossible not to like Haywire despite the style over substance focus. Gina Carano is a total badass among badasses and Soderbergh wastes little time celebrating that fact.
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