Posted by: steveonfilm | January 21, 2012

Recently Watched: Haywire

Caught Haywire today. Written by Lem Dobbs (The Score, Dark City), and directed by Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, Ocean’s Eleven), Haywire is the story of how private mercenary Mallory Kane (Gina Carano making her film debut) is double crossed in what appears to be a Federal Government coverup of some sorts, and her quest to find answers and get revenge.

The concept didn’t sound like anything new, and frankly it wasn’t. I mean, how many times have we seen the old “double cross/set-up” routine in thrillers. Even the concept of the Mallory Kane character was a bit cliche, an ex-marine working for a private contractor that offers mercenaries to do government dirty work. Nope, what interested me in this flick was Gina Carano.

How often have we seen an actin film with a female lead that we just couldn’t buy. Angelina Jolie beating people up? Please. Zoe Saldana shooting bad guys? Whatever. Keira Knightley as a bounty hunter? You’re killing me. I can’t buy any of them. All three weigh 100 pounds and would shatter on impact if punched hard enough. But Carano? She’s different. She’s legit. Why? Because she a professional fighter for Christ sake.

This woman beats people up for real. That’s her job. When you see her punch someone, she actually knows what she’s doing. When you see her snap on a key lock submission hold, she didn’t need to be taught how to do that, SHE ALREADY KNOWS! Basically, it’s one less thing you need to suspend disbelief about.

But, can she act? That’s the big question.

The answer, she acts well enough to get the job done. The script, smartly, keeps her range limited to the traditional tough girl role. There’s not a lot of emotional variance. We see her walk about being tough, because that’s her character. Some lines of dialog are a bit rough, there’s a few awkward looks here and there, but otherwise I thought it was a perfectly fine performance. I’ll tell you, there was one scene I thought that stood out, where Gina showed she has some potential as an actress. While undercover, she has to act like “arm candy” for another male agent she’s with. In a tight spot, worried about her cover being blown, she plays the “ditzy drunk” seamlessly, to the point where it really stood out. It didn’t seem forced. It seemed natural. We knew her character was “acting,” but it worked. Little things, a slight change in her voice, a different smile, mannerisms that were a little sloppy, it’s weird but it was enough to show me that she’s can make a go of this action movie thing.

The supporting cast, Michael Fassbender (in too short a role), Channing Tatum, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Ewan McGregor, and BILL FUCKING PAXTON!!!!, was excellent, which is good because the script didn’t give them much to work with. Their characters were a little hollow and stereotyped, but not enough to bother me by any means. I actually liked Antonio Banderas quite a bit, and Ewan McGregor played a smarmy management type excellently.

The directing wasn’t really noticeable, at least in any manner that stood out. Soderbergh didn’t take any big risks, but didn’t do anything stupid either. The action was well done, and the camera kept back enough so you could actually watch and appreciate the fight choreography. None of this shaky cam bullshit where you can’t see anything. You could follow everything going on and know who was hitting who. The musical score was interesting, sounding at times like a classic spy film which seemed out of place on occasion, but otherwise got the job done. There were many moments where there was no score at all, and most if not all of the action sequences let the gunshots and punches provide all the soundtrack that was needed, which was a refreshing change.

Haywire is a fun film. You’re not going to get anything ground breaking, but at a running time of (before the credits) about an hour and twenty six minutes, even if you hate it you’re not going to be out a huge chunk of your day. I’m looking forward to seeing what Carano decides to do next, and whether or not this film does well at the box office. If you like action thrillers check it out.

Keep writing,
-Steve

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