A minimalist action flick full of the now customary Steven Soderbergh experimentation, Haywire is not the wham-bam action flick the trailers would have you believe. This is a director famed for his innovative style doing something off-kilter in a genre saturated with Bourne rip-offs. While it is packed to the brim with star names, most are in small supporting roles and are essentially glorified cameo. This is Gina Carano's film, and the real life Mixed Martial Artist kicks epic amounts of ass in the lead role.
Carano is arm-snapping, uzi-firing Black Ops solider Mallory, who, after a job goes bad in Barcelona, is being hunted by seemingly every shady operative and policeman in whatever country she subsequently finds herself in. Looking for revenge on the person or people who have ruined her life, she must first escape from the clutches of these dastardly types, who are having their strings pulled by Ewan McGregor's slimy behind-the-scenes boss. Along the way, she wines, dines and beats the living sh*t out of Michael Fassbender (in a Dublin hotel) and Channing Tatum.
There were walkouts at the screening of Haywire I went to. There is no music for the first ten minutes or so, but the tone screams Bourne. Where's the techno soundtrack and crash edits? I could almost hear them think. What it does have is seriously impressive hand-to-hand combat scenes. Soderbergh could've went down the movie star route and hired a name for Carano's role, but he didn't - and the athlete is not just instantly buyable as a former Marine, but a genuinely magnetic presence. That said, the rudimentary dialogue doesn't help her in her debut role in some early scenes.
On that note, the script is overly convoluted and Soderbergh has cast big names in certain roles (Douglas, Banderas) apparently only to serve as a memory device - you'll remember what this character said, even though they've gone missing for an hour, etc. It's confusing, because in action films we're used to having the plot signposted or explained by a character before they're shot or kicked off a cliff. Nevertheless, Soderbergh's style elevates the material and his casting of Carano was a brave move.
The fight scenes are as real as they get, and Carano is hugely impressive. Just don't expect a pulsating action flick; this is more arthouse than Bruckheimer.
Story by Mike Sheridan | 10:20 | Tuesday 10th April 2012 | DVD review
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