Lincoln’s Movie Night: Haywire

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: Gina Carano, Michael Fassbender, Antonio Banderas, Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas

Haywire is not pretty.

That’s a misleading statement. I’m not saying that it’s a bad film, or that it isn’t shot well. On the contrary, it’s a lot of fun, and the cinematography make for an extremely entertaining film. No, what Haywire is is what The Expendables should have been: action stripped down to it’s most basic, bloody, bone-breaking form, with none of the CGI or wire-work that has come to define the genre.

And not a single explosion.

Haywire is the story of Mallory Kane, played well by MMA-fighter Gina Carano, an ex-Marine working for a private military contractor. After a job in Barcelona goes off easily enough, Kane quits the company but is enticed back for that proverbial one last job. And during the course of this final job, she realizes that for some reason, she can’t trust any of the people that she thought she could.

The story is a pretty basic disavowed-agent-gets-revenge arc, and Carano plays the part well. Discovered by Soderbergh when he was watching MMA after getting fired from a movie, he wondered why no one had built a movie around her. The audience can really only say “It took long enough” as Carano has more than enough chops to lead this thing. With an excellent supporting cast including Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Channing Tatum, Antonio Banderas, Michael Douglas and Bill Paxton, the only let down is that some of them have very little to do in the film’s 92 minute running time.

The Bourne films have made audiences hunger for intelligence with their action and while Haywire‘s story is fairly convoluted, it won’t leave anyone scratching their head. Once again though, this appears to be by design. Soderbergh has condensed action into a taut thriller that comes at you with bursts of violence, plot delivered in flashbacks and cutaways. The focus is on Carano and the violence that is her stock in trade.

And oh, that violence. Starting with an opening sequence that made the entire audience cringe, the discomfort of seeing a man attack a woman with such brutality palpable, Carano quickly shows that she can more than hold her own, with her doing her own stuntwork adding to the adrenaline. The fights and really, much of the film, are often without music, making it a much more visceral experience, with a soundtrack of grunts and cracks making it on par with the MMA fights that made Carano a star.

The film does occasionally trip on it’s own stripped approach. There are moments when it can look slightly cheap, with shots losing that gritty but professional feel and looking more like something shot by someone who had just picked up a camera. These are rare, but they tend to take you out of the flow. Soderbergh has refined this gritty feel a lot, an improvement made from 2009’s similar build-a-movie-around-this-non-movie-person The Girlfriend Experience.

Overall, the film is enjoyable, though the short running time and occasional bad shot may be off-putting to some. If you’re looking for a back-to-basics actioner, though, with practical stunts, brutal fights and a protagonist you can’t help but root for, you could do a lot worse.

Posted on January 20, 2012 at 13:21 by Lincoln Eddy · Permalink
In: Eyes and Ears, Movies, Reviews · Tagged with: , , , , , , ,