|Screen One: Haywire||1 out of 2 users found this review helpful.|
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Written By: Lem Dobbs
Distributor: Paramount Studios
Run Time: 1 hour 33 minutes
Starring: Gina Carano, Michael Douglas, Ewen McGregor, Antonio Banderas
Haywire is a prime example of a film not quite being the sum of its parts. Soderbergh is a great director with a flair for the stylish. The cast is all star and perfectly capable of bringing the performances. The scriptwriter is pretty damn decent. The action sequences are great... But it never quite comes together. It’s the pure definition of “Good but not great”.
But let’s deal with the good first. Gina Carano is actually really damn good as Mallory Kane. She really convinces as a tough badass who trusts only her father and she actually manages to portray some moments of genuine emotion. She’s far better at showing emotion body language wise than through her voice due to some occasionally stilted line readings. But otherwise, Carano easily carries the movie and she has a bright future ahead of her should she choose it.
The rest of the cast do well with what little the script gives them. Channing Tatum gets to sit and smoulder with the best of them (and, for my personal satisfaction, get his ass kicked six ways from Sunday). Antonio Banderas is charmingly evil with a beard to match “Start of Day 6 Jack Bauer”. Michael Fassbender gets to actually use his Irish accent in his more extended role than that trailer would imply. And Ewen McGregor is suitably slimy as the boss who betrays Mallory. As noted earlier though, there’s not a whole lot to say about the performances because none of the supporting cast gets enough to do.
But this is an action movie (sort of), so what good would it be if the action sequences weren’t any good? Fortunately, they are and this is due to a very refreshing focus on realism. There’s no wire work, no Matrix slow motion, no insanely choreographed car crash, no fireball pyrotechnics of doom... Often, the action sequences are just two people beating the hell out of one another with some absolutely brutal looking punches and kicks (and, in one instance, a friggin’ triangle choke!) which is way more convincing and immersive than, say, a Jason Statham vehicle.
The relatively simplistic fight choreography is backed up by fantastic cinematography (the final fight sequence on the beach, in particular, looks rather pretty) which is just as interested in showing you what’s going on (read: no shakycam) as it is showing the environment the fight’s taking place in. And, in a rare move, Soderbergh strips all fight sequences of all music and all exaggerated sound effects. So the hits feel much more brutal and you’re drawn in by what’s on screen, not by manipulative editing.
A quick note must be made on the score by David Holmes, which is brilliant. It’s groovy, full of catchy hooks and is something I could genuinely see listening to on my iPod on a day to day basis. Here’s the problem, though: It’s the wrong soundtrack. It may be a fantastic soundtrack but it doesn’t fit the movie at all. It’s too laidback, too sleazy, frequently betrays the action on screen and sounds more befitting a heist movie. A damn shame because it really is that good otherwise.
By now, you’ve already read the score and want to know, “Why only 3 stars?” Well, there are two reasons. One that’s real easy to explain. One that isn’t.
There is very little plot in Haywire, which is why I haven’t bothered recapping it. It’s your standard “Well trained super soldier gets framed and must go rogue to clear her name” fare. And I’d be fine with this, if it wasn’t for the fact that Haywire is a lot slower paced than those trailers would have you believe. It spends a good deal of time between the action sequences having characters talk or investigate something...
Which would be fine if there was more to the plot. The reason for the double cross doesn’t make much sense in detail (Better to just go with McGregor’s explanation of “It’s always about the money”) and really isn’t as big as the film tries to make it out to be. So, the slower sequences of dialogue exchanges and clues come off as limp and filler because there is nothing going on under the surface.
In addition; the ending, whilst actually rather funny (one of the few moments of genuine humour the script throws up), resolves bugger all and just kind of stops. It’s extremely anti-climactic and further cements the idea that the film just does not give a damn about any of its characters besides Mallory.
The other, much harder to explain, reason, is that the film is missing something. The whole time I was watching the film I felt like it was missing something. Something that would have taken it to the next level. Something that would have made it great. I actually wrote this review the day after I saw the film instead of immediately after because I was still trying to figure out the precise reason why I didn’t really love the film. I still haven’t by the way. It’s just the feeling that it’s lacking something. A je ne sais quoi, essentially.
In the end, I enjoyed Haywire. I had some fun and I never got bored. Gina Carano has a future in this business if she so desires. The action sequences were great and it was different. But the slow pacing betrays the lack of plot and it lacks a certain something to push it into the realm of “this was great, go see it”.
Haywire was good. I liked it. And that’s as far as I can recommend it.
3 out of 5.
Trailer 2: Haywire
This trailer is punchier than the last one. I mean that both literally and figuratively.
How great is it that when Steven Soderbergh wants to make a Big Dumb Action Movie starring Gina Carano, he manages to get Michael Douglas, Ewen McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Bill Paxton, and Antonio Banderas to come along for the ride?
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