Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire finds its strengths through its beautifully shot scenes, its hard-hitting realistic, well choreographed one-on-one fights that don’t rely on shaky cam, and its stylistic approach using various colour tones and interesting camera angles to help convey the mood and atmosphere throughout. These highlights make Haywire a slower-paced thriller that’s enjoyable enough to watch once, however, there’s just not enough there to warrant much more than that.
The story is fairly straightforward, though there are complexities throughout that help keep the viewers watching. Mallory Kane is a freelance covert operative who is about to leave her handler Kenneth (Ewan McGregor) and move on to bigger and better things, though before she can, she quickly finds herself at the center of a double-cross, and it will take all her skills and expertise to figure out why she was framed, and how to get back at those who betrayed her.
There’s a reason why we want to see Jason Bourne and John McClane succeed, and that’s because we feel something for them. Sure, they’ve got some superhuman characteristics that set them apart from your average Joe, but they still give the viewer an emotional connection. That’s something that’s lacking from Haywire‘s leading lady, Mallory Kane (Gina Carano). While we watch to see what will happen next because we’ve invested time into the story, when it comes right down to it, we don’t really care what happens to Kane. I mean, you want her to figure things out, but there’s no real rooting interest in the character, which hurts the movie overall.
Now, it should be mentioned that this problem isn’t the fault of Carano, as she’s actually one of the film’s bright spots. You may wonder how that’s possible if her character is someone that we don’t really care about? Well, it’s not her fault that the character is poorly written, and her performance and skills here will definitely help her gain credibility as one of the few potential female action stars Hollywood has to offer.
Of course, some may think, “Well, this is an action movie! Forget emotional connections and focus on the action!” and you wouldn’t be wrong in thinking that, and that’s also why Haywire receives a passing grade, as it does have some solid action sequences. While Bourne’s battles are filled with quick cuts and hard hitting martial arts action, Kane’s fights land on a much more realistic plateau for the most part, with both parties just pummeling on one another until one submits or is no longer breathing. It’s slower paced, but it works and it comes off feeling as though a real fight has just taken place.
Soderbergh once again attracts some big name talent to fill up the supporting cast of his film, and this also helps Haywire become worthwhile viewing. McGregor, Michael Fassbender and Channing Tatum have the biggest of the supporting roles, with smaller parts going to the likes of Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, and Bill Paxton. McGregor plays a fun, slimy character, and while Tatum’s character isn’t developed that well, he still does solid work here. Fassbender’s portion of the film is a highlight, as his chemistry with Carano is spot on, and while I want to see Daniel Craig continue to play James Bond for as long as possible, there’s a brief glimpse of what could be if Fassbender were to take over the part in the future. And it works.
As mentioned at the start, Soderbergh’s visual and shooting choices help keep the film interesting. The pacing is slow at times, however, it’s easy to see that it was never meant to be a Bourne clone. Still, for trying something new, the Soderbergh action thriller is something that could definitely work, and hopefully if he attempts another in the future, he’ll do so with a stronger script.
Haywire isn’t a bad film, but it’s nothing memorable either. It’s worth checking out once, as the directing, fight scenes and acting is solid throughout; however, it’s the work done by Carano that really stands out, and she’ll definitely be one to keep an eye on in the future as far as female action stars are concerned.
Haywire is a visually beautiful film, and the video transfer looks great. The images are sharp, and the colours and hues are vibrant, while the darks are deep and rich. The sound is solid throughout, which is always a plus.
Gina Carano in Training – This featurette comes in at 16 minutes in length and covers a bunch of Gina’s history in fighting, with video from her mixed martial arts bouts, which are quite crazy to see. Not only did she train for the fights, but also the gun usage while moving, and so forth. Fun featurette to watch where you get to see some of the actors she fought with talk about their battles as well.
The Men of Haywire – This is a five and a half minute featurette that covers just was it says, and that’s interviews with the men in the film. The interviews are fast, and cover the usual basis as to what they each feel about the film, and what it was like working with Soderbergh.
Characters of Haywire – This featurette runs at just under ten minutes and it’s basically promotional footage for the film, with each of the characters given their own quick promotional package.
Haywire is a film that’s work checking out at least once, though the lack of memorable characters and replay value make this one more of a visually entertaining film over one that you can sink your teeth into. Still, Carano is one to watch, and I have no doubt that she’ll be a top female action star in the coming years.
Relativity Media presents Haywire. Directed by: Steven Soderbergh. Written by: Len Dobbs. Starring: Gina Carano, Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Bill Paxton, Channing Tatum, Antonio Banderas, Michael Douglas. Running time: 93 minutes. Rating: . Released on Blu-ray: May 1, 2012. Available at Amazon.com.
Tags: Antonio Banderas, Bill Paxton, Channing Tatum, ewan mcgregor, Gina Carano, Haywire, Michael Douglas, Michael Fassbender, MMA, Steven Soderbergh