Posted January 20, 2012 by in


Total Score

2/ 5

Quick Stats

Genre: action
Director: Steven Soderbergh
MPAA Rating: R
Actors: Gina Carano, Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender
Length: 93 minutes
Release Date: 1/20/2012
Studio: Relativity Media, Irish Film Board
What We Thought

The stunts lack ambition, the story lacks economy, the characters lack dimension, and the fights—the film’s raison d’etre—are identical and repetitive.

by Daniel Hodgson
Full Article
Haywire, Steven Soderbergh’s venture into Bourne Identity territory, is an ineffectual star vehicle for real-life mixed martial arts fighter Gina Carano.  The stunts lack ambition, the story lacks economy, the characters lack dimension, and the fights—the film’s raison d’etre—are identical and repetitive.  Action-junkies looking for a post-Ghost Protocol adrenalin fix are going to find Haywire to be a hollow placebo.  Februrary cannot come sooner.
     Mallory Kane thought she worked her last job as a mercenary when she rescued Jiang, a journalist taken hostage who has goods that could damage a powerful figure.  But when Kenneth, her boss and ex-lover, asks her to do one last job, Mallory finds herself defending her life from the very man she was hired to protect.  She quickly discovers it was Kenneth who set her up, but the conspiracy against her goes much deeper than she realizes.
     That’s as much sense as I could make of the plot.  Haywire takes a simple story that smells like the week-old leftovers of a TV movie, fragments the order a la Tarantino, and muddles it beyond comprehension with superfluous characters with shifting motivations.  When Kenneth (Ewen McGregor) assigns Mallory on a protection detail for Paul (Michael Fassbener), supposedly an MI-6 agent, it’s not made clear what Paul’s goal is on a surface level.  As Mallory and Paul attend a party, someone recognizes her, but nothing seems to come of it.  Antonio Banderas’s purpose in the film isn’t clear, and Michael Douglas can’t seem to make up his mind who’s side he’s on and what he wants.  The film begins in medias res, with Mallory explaining what’s happened thus far to Scott (Michael Angerano), whom she’s more or less taken hostage, as they drive away from a diner where one of Kenneth’s agents had attacked her.  Mallory and Scott don’t develop any kind of a relationship, Scott isn’t developed as a character, and he just buggers off after Mallory has told him her story.  He’s not so much a character as a clunky, expository plot device.
     Haywire‘s narrative shortcomings wouldn’t be such a problem if the fight and chase scenes they motivate achieved the excitement they are going for.  There’s six fight scenes, two chases on-foot, one car chase and two shoot-outs, yet the most any of it elicited from me was a yawn.  The fight scenes uniformly go like this:  either Mallory or rival combatant gets the drop on the other, there’s a volley of blocked punches, one gets the other in a choke hold, and then they bash one another into the wall.  Action movies need to build as they go, but the fight scenes in Haywire have the same identity from start to end.   Carano’s kicks look brutal, she performs a cool off-the-wall kick, and she seems to be doing a lot of her own stunts, but her repertoire of moves is too limited to support a feature length martial arts movie.  The gunfights are too abbreviated and distanced to generate excitement, and the chase scenes are rote.
     And then there’s her acting.  Carano has the face and figure for a Hollywood film.  Her eyes have the intense gaze of a watchful eagle, and we’re no more afraid for her than we would be for Stathom, Wahlberg, or their macho brethren.  However, her performance is as one-note as Wahlberg’s was in Max Payne.  There’s no depth or complexity to Mallory, no growth.  She doesn’t get particularly angry, or afraid, let alone happy.  I readily accept her as an action heroine like her male counterparts, but what I’d like to expect of her is more than just the physical.
     My eyes wandered off the screen as the film went on.  I like Soderbergh’s camerawork in Haywire, but as an editor, he’s chaotic and unruly, both within scenes and in the overall structure.  Take this with a grain of salt.  I’ve never been a Soderbergh fan, and I nearly ejected the Solaris DVD midway through.  Haywire was shot back in 2010, but sat on the shelf for a year, and was released in the month of January.  The title was changed  from Knockout to Haywire.  How apt.

About the Author

Daniel Hodgson

Daniel has a degree in film from the University of Texas at Austin, and writes about himself in the third-person, because that's the fashion.


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