Steven Soderbergh’s eighth film since his ‘retirement’, Haywire is a showcase for fantastic hand-to-hand combat and action sequences designed for astute realism. However, not much else clicks in this showcase for newcomer badass Gina Carano.
The film’s plot is rather simple. Professional Defense Contractor Kenneth (Ewan McGregor) hires Mallory Kane (Carano) for one last job, a “paid holiday” (after a successful job in Barcelona with the sexy Aaron (Channing Tatum, doing his best Brad Pitt impersonation) posing as the wife to Paul (Michael Fassbender, what the hell are you doing here), an MI6 agent on a mission to take down a sketchy guy (doesn’t matter). Turns out it was a setup and Paul tries to kill Mallory, but she (of course) turns the tables and kills him first. A government guy (Michael Douglas, again, what the hell are you doing here), Mallory’s father John (Bill Paxton), a young kid (Michael Angarano) and a wealthy Spanish guy (Antonio Banderas) are also involved.
The film succeeds at what it’s trying to do–it’s an action thriller that prides itself on realistic fight scenes and immersive tension sequences without paying much mind to plot or character–the problem is that it’s just not that great. It’s not a bad way to spend a short hour-and-a-half, and Carano certainly knows how to kick major ass. The problem is that none of it is all that appealing. The cinematography from a framing perspective is fantastic, but Soderbergh’s digital tendencies lead to an odd color scheme that delves far too often into piss-yellow. Ick.
Gina Carano isn’t a great actress, but she gets the job done. I surprisingly didn’t hate Channing Tatum. (If he keeps going in this faux-Pitt direction, I might be inclined to possibly sorta like him a little). Everyone else in the film is underutilized, outside of Michael Angarano, who steals the show with some fun comic relief.
The editing in the film was odd, to say the least, but provided some genuine interest in what happened to Mallory. The fight scenes were all intricately planned long-takes weaved together, Mallory’s scouring of a location all by herself leads to a genuine scare and Mallory’s walks through the streets as a fugitive bring surprising tension and an immersive feeling for the viewer. This editing style could be replicated in a future, likely better film.
The film’s score was what the Ocean’s soundtrack would sound like if it was remixed for an action thriller, no surprise since David Arnold composed both. Jazz-infused dissonance in an action pic? Pretty neat and interesting. If not perfect, I give it points for trying something new and breaking a little ground in scoring for such a film. I’d like to hear more guitars, drums, horns and rock influence in film scores.
In conclusion, while the film is imperfect, it’s not a bad way to spend two hours…but it’s not a particularly good way either.