Synopsis: A black ops super soldier seeks payback after she is betrayed and set up during a mission.
Stars: Gina Carano, Michael Fassbender, Channing Tatum, Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Bill Paxton
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Running Length: 93 minutes
Random Crew Highlight: Cinematographer – Peter Andrews (FYI…Peter Andrews is a pseudonym for Steven Soderbergh…why Soderbergh doesn’t list himself as director and cinematographer is beyond me…)
TMMM Score: (7/10)
Review: Just when I think I’ve figured Soderbergh out as a director, he goes and throws me for a loop. The Oscar winning director has had a mixed bag of films released in the last decade and while some have been interesting experiments (The Girlfriend Experiment) others have been duds (Bubble, Full Frontal). So where does his newest endeavor, Haywire, fit in? I’d say squarely in the center. It’s a potpourri of clichés and stock characters that are all window dressing for the kind of hand to hand action sequences audiences don’t see often.
Soderbergh has crafted his movie around the central performance of Carano (a mixed martial artist who was also Crush on the newest version of American Gladiators) and for the most part she’s a wise casting choice. Carano is fascinating to watch…until she opens her mouth. It’s interesting to note that her voice was lowered in post-production…which ends up making her entire speech pattern monotone and Stallone-ish. Whether calm or excited, the voice never has any inflection to it which it could be argued is a benefit to a character that’s at the top of the black ops market. Wading through some stunted acting on Carano’s part she does tend to loosen up in the middle of this short and compact movie.
All of this acting nonsense really is just a gateway to get to why Carano was really brought in for this movie – the action sequences. Carano does all of her own stunts and believe me, it’s pretty much worth the price of admission alone to see what she’s got. These aren’t your typical fight scenes played out over a sweeping score and ending with a witty quip when the baddie is vanquished. No, these are bone-crunching, visceral, and dialogue free bouts that are well choreographed and expertly executed by Carano and anyone she comes up against. What’s more, these sequences frequently caught me off guard which created an edge-of-your-seat effect for this viewer. With no two sequences looking/feeling the same way there is almost a video game quality about the movie…each foe defeated opens our heroine up to a new level of combat. It’s not a particularly bloody movie (that would be out of place here) but you may find yourself wincing at several key moments. Soderbergh captures these sequences with a dazzling eye for detail and depth with some of these grisly run-ins looking downright beautiful from a filmmaking standpoint. As I noted above, Soderbergh was also the director of photography so this feels like a full-on Soderbergh affair with him controlling every aspect of the film.
Plot-wise, there’s not really much to discuss because there’s not much there. It’s a fairly basic/straight-forward re-telling of the classic betrayal plotline that more than a few Mission Impossibles have used. I get the feeling that some of the dialogue was punched up to make it sound a bit more elite than it actually is. Some of the talk in code is downright laughable with none of the actors escaping some fairly lame-o bits of dialogue. On the way out of the theater my companions and I began to discuss the plot and the movie started falling apart with loose ends and plot contrivances that didn’t add up. Haywire is just one of those movies that’s best enjoyed in the theater but is probably best to not dwell on it for too long.
Aside from one or two extras (Soderbergh is the king of casting great background people) all of the speaking roles are males from his arsenal of stars. Banderas, Douglas, Tatum, McGregor, Paxton and especially Fassbender are all interesting actors but never seem quite sure what their role is in serving the picture. Still, all are onboard to make way for Carano as she punches, kicks, flips, jumps, and TKO’s the film in short order. It’s a fast flick that keeps good pace and will go great with popcorn. Carano is worth watching and I’d be interested to see what her next pictures look like – there’s something there for sure and maybe with a different director she’ll have the opportunity to get some acting in between knocking someone’s block off.