Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Genre: Action, Thriller
Opens locally Friday, January 20th, 2012 (check for show times)
Run Time: 1 hour 32 minutes, Rated R
Starring: Gina Carano, Channing Tatum, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Bill Paxton
Written by Lem Dobbs (The Score, The Limey)
Directed by Steven Soderbergh (Contagion, The Informant!, Ocean’s Eleven, Erin Brockovich, Traffic, Out of Sight)
Haywire is a recognizably stylish Steven Soderbergh film, a high-octane and sexy action flick that is just clever enough to be enjoyable. It feels a bit different than most other movies of the genre because it stars a female as the central bad-ass action hero. This super soldier is Mallory, played by Gina Carano, who is a real-life MMA fighter. In Haywire, she puts her skills to use as a black ops agent who has been betrayed by her superiors. She may have what it takes to save herself, but she falls short of saving this very uneven and hollow film.
From the opening scene, we learn that Mallory can take care of herself, and we also learn that most of the men in this film have no issues brutally beating on women. After Mallory is double-crossed, she attempts to piece together who turned on her and why. The story is told using the ever-popular time-shifting technique, where we flash back and forth between past and present events in order to make sense of what is going on. Ewan McGregor is the other primary figure and the film’s antagonist. Michael Douglas, Michael Fassbender, Antonio Banderas, and Bill Paxton all have minor roles, although juicy ones, but between them they don’t manage to clock much screen time.
Haywire succeeds when Mallory is in full butt-kicking mode. There are some intense action sequences and chases, but sadly the film as a whole lacks proper pacing. Many times we see Mallory chasing or running from something, and we simply see 5 to 10 shots in a row of her running, turning corners, and running some more. Not much happening. When she does lock horns with the bad guys, there are some thrilling sequences and some super-cool if unnecessary stunt work taking place. I felt a lot of these scenes could have been tighter. In between the action, we get long stretches of dialogue that borders on tedious. Sure, the plot is fairly clever and requires explanation, but even at 92 minutes there were portions of Haywire that had me wishing someone would just punch somebody already.
I could see Gina Carano becoming like a female version of The Rock, completely capable of carrying an action movie or a franchise. The few scenes that required a bit more emotional depth though, showed her inexperience.
Ultimately, Haywire is a throw-away action movie that introduces us to Gina Carano, and is good enough to get by without being very memorable. Still, the premise and the star power of the ensemble cast made for a fairly enjoyable time. Fans of Soderbergh or the work of screenwriter Lem Dobbs probably won’t be disappointed, nor will the casual action fan. It’s just that nobody will remember Haywire by the time they reach the car.
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