Steven Soderbergh’s latest film Haywire is a very paint-by-numbers spy/action thriller. Gina Carano stars as Mallory Kane, a covert operative that gets contracted out to do the jobs that government s can’t legally endorse. Her latest job sends her to Dublin where she is double crossed and must find her way back home and deal with those responsible. The film plays like a Bond film with a smaller budget. The big issue with the film is its overall lack of energy. There is little excitement from this film outside of the fight scenes.
Carano’s acting leaves a bit to be desired even by action movie standards. Like a bad SNL host delivering their opening monologue, her inability to emote and dead pan delivery make it seem as if she is reading from a teleprompter. She does a serviceable job but it’s hard not to notice her lack of strong acting ability when she’s in scenes with Michael Fassbender, Antonio Banderas, and Michael Douglas.
What Carano lacks in acting ability she certainly makes up for with her action scenes. Haywire delivers some of the most visceral fight scenes I’ve seen in a long time. The brutal nature of these scenes is punctuated by the lack for musical score during the fights. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a female actor give and take a more realistic punch.
This film is ok, but just ok. We’ve all seen this done before and we’ve all seen it done better.
There is an overarching mechanism that I could not ignore in Steven Soderbergh's Haywire. Whether good or bad the notion of sound is used heavily to control your view of this movie. Soderbergh's past movies (Oceans' 11 and the sequels) had a catchy tune and tone about them. This is also easily heard and felt in Haywire. However, there is a sound treatment that all but ruined the movie for me. The voice dubbing of Gina Carano with Carano's own voice (modified) was distracting at the least and poorly executed at the best. The movie has little sense of urgency throughout. Never did the dialogue or intensity of the characters match what was happening around them.
The fight scenes were great. The thud-like punching noises during those scenes (not my preference) are reminiscent of fight scenes in Chris Nolan's Batman films. The actual fights were visceral and as previously mentioned by Micah, are some of the better fight scenes in an American movie in some time. Carano's MMA skills were put on display here and for good reason. Cheers and jeers were heard throughout those choice moments.
The supporting cast is what got me to this movie, and what helped me get through it. Overall Carano was watchable, but I feel that she needs more time to hone her skills as an actor. She has the potential to really be a break out action star in the upcoming months/years. However, the cast that she worked with are the shinning stars. What I learned most from this movie is that Douglass and Banderas still have it. You saw their charisma pour through the screen when ever possible. While I thought Ewan McGregor was just acceptable. I am not so sure this is his fault, as his character was poorly flushed out. Channing Tatum is the most forgettable here even more so than Bill Paxton who is on screen for less time. Tatum inability to emote was just as bad as Carano's, but she gets a pass as this is her first outing. Fassbender comes out of no where with an above average performance for a below average character, nice quick job for him.
I wouldn't rush out to see Haywire, but I would check it out on a matinee for under 10 bucks. That isn't saying much for the movie, and that is deliberate. Soderbergh has performed much better with a large cast of great actors in the past. This time he falls flat, and you can not blame it all on his leading lady. On a positive note, I think Soderbergh may have launched a real action movie career for Gina Carano. More female action stars is never a bad thing. So for that reason alone I give Soderbergh immense credit.
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