by Luke Goldstein
The choice she is referring to in the poster is her hair accessories. She might have overreacted a little bit.
Rating: 7 out of 10
Once a mold is created for a certain genre of film, it can be hard to make anything to rattle the cages again. Anything stepping past that invisible line is referred to as “not really a horror movie” (even though it is), “not quite a sci-fi film” (except that it was), or “a film that defies genre” (which likely means it is just a good film firing on all cylinders). The challenge here is how we as an audience react to a film that dares to peek outside our tiny genre box; every so often we need to just stretch our fingers over the lip of the box to feel for something more. In Haywire, we get our newest example of stretching those boundaries to see what happens when you try to film something “more than just an action movie.”
Haywire is the tension-filled tale of Mallory, a soldier for hire under a private contractor. She is sent on an assignment that goes south fast. Dodging enemies and former colleagues from all sides, she has to find out who burned her and why.
The first thing pulling Haywire out of the box is its director, Steven Soderbergh. Well known for his award-winning films, Traffic and Erin Brokovich, he also found huge success with his rat pack team of A-list actors in the Oceans series. With the dollars he made in the big budget world, he also found time to keep his imagination on its toes with experimental films like Bubble and The Girlfriend Experience. In that last film, Soderbergh tried out a formula, which he continued in Haywire, filling your lead role with someone outside the acting world, someone who actually lives much closer to the part in real life. In Girlfriend, he hired porn star Sasha Grey as the emotionally complicated high-priced escort. In Haywire, he filled the role of ex-marine Mallory with MMA fighter Gina Carano. Obviously this tactic does not always work (just look at 99% of the movies WWE Studios puts out), but when you have an eye for quality and depth like Soderbergh’s, your rate of success is bound to be higher.
Carano is straight street toughness all the way from the first moment we see her on screen to the final intense stare in her eyes. Her real life fighting abilities helped Soderbergh craft a much deeper sense of realism in the action movie violence. No double twisting backflip kicks, no catching swinging sword blade between the palms of your hands, just straight up hand-to-hand, gun-toting reality. He even pulled down the sound effects that we are used to with muted gunshots and thick sounding punches. All of those choices brought together helped you look at the action on screen and say, “Yep, she could totally do that (and likely kick my ass to boot).” He also surrounded her with talented help, like Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Bill Paxton and the recently unstoppable Michael Fassbender (seriously, how many movies has this guy had waiting to come out at the same time?). Even Channing Tatum comes in to give her a reasonable love interest for a moment, a guy who might be able to go toe-to-toe with her in a fight.
While the movie succeeds in the action and tension department, it also falls a little flat in an area not uncommon to Soderbergh films: it just stops. The story plays nicely with the subtlety of the situation Carano finds herself in, but takes so much time showing all the intricacies that it fails to feel completely wrapped up when it goes to black. Making it even worse is the movie clocks in around ninety minutes, meaning there really was plenty of time to give this a more well-rounded ending.
The End of the Page recommendation: Haywire is a fun, smart action film starring a hero not for us to believe in, but to believe actually exists.