Note that this probably won’t be the only review for Haywire. I think everyone at the Shattered Lens is going to see it, so it’ll be cool to see what we all thought of it. For any other reviews that come up, I’ll update this one to link to it.
I didn’t expect a great deal with Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire. Walking into it, I thought of Steven Seagal’s “Above the Law”, Pamela Anderson’s “Barb Wire”, Bruce Lee’s “Fist of Fury”, Antoine Fuqua’s “The Replacement Killers” and Jean-Claude Van Damme’s “Bloodsport”. All of those films worked to showcase either a martial arts star doing what they do best or a filming technique (in the case of The Replacement Killers’ John Woo love) to audiences. Ultimately, this is what Haywire is. It’s MMA fighter Gina Carano’s spotlight moment, giving her the chance to show what she’s got. In essence, you’re watching an expensive demo reel.
I’ve followed Carano through her MMA fighting career, thanks to a friend who introduced me to the Showtime fighting specials years ago. After her fall to Cristiane Cyborg (who is just as deadly in the ring), Gina kind of stepped away from a bit. I, for one, am happy to see her back in some form or fashion.
And she’s great as an action star, when there’s action happening. There’s just not enough of it, though. Watching Haywire for me was like seeing Jet Li in “Unleashed”. You’re begging for Soderbergh to just let Carano go wild just kick everyone’s ass, but alas, it only happens in short, controlled bursts. Perhaps that’s a good thing, considering that there is something of a story unfolding. When there isn’t any action, Gina’s Mallory Kane makes a brooding face and always looks poised for the next fight.
The movie does two smart things – It lets Carano do her thing, and gives her a cast that tries to help her out.
Soderbergh surrounds Carano with enough talent that you almost forget to concentrate on her and where she’s going. She does okay on her own with her focused stares and cool demeanor, but the supporting cast seems to help out when they can, some becoming human punching bags in the process. No one member of the supporting cast shines, but collectively, they do well.
Like the Bourne films, there’s very little music used during the actual fight sequences. That does help to let you focus on what’s going on in front of you. Musically, I’ll admit I liked it. Instead of composer Cliff Martinez, who I felt did really well on Contagion, we have David Holmes again who worked with Soderbergh on all three Oceans films. He gives the movie a 70’s spy vibe that hinges on almost sounding like it could be used for the TV show Archer. Make of that what you will. I enjoyed it.
Haywire is the classic tale of a Government Agent on the run from the people who made them what they were. You’ve seen it before. Bourne, every other film like Bourne, and most of the Transporter series. What Haywire tries to bring to the table is someone who happens to be fully capable of taking and dishing the blows that come with the close quarter fight scenes that occur. Carano is easily Haywire’s strongest point.
Here are Haywire’s problems:
– Mallory is cool and all, but don’t expect much in the way of character development. This is an action movie. You’re not going to learn much about Mallory Kane other than she’s lethal and loves her father. That’s about it. If you want character growth spurts, you’re better off watching one of the Awards contenders.
– Don’t expect action all the way through. Haywire has some lull points as with any movie, and at the late night showing I went to, someone was snoring on the left side of the theatre. Be prepared for that.
– The movie has the potential of running a “See Gina Run”, “See Gina Fight”, “See Gina Run & Fight” loop. I personally didn’t mind this at all, but it may see to be a little repetitive to some. The fights are brutal and fantastic and I’d personally like to know if any stunt people were hurt.
Overall, for a January release, Haywire isn’t bad at all. I could easily see Gina Carano doing a few more of these and rising as an action star. Until then, I’ll be heading back to this one pretty soon.