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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 26.67%
Just Average: 6.67%
Pretty Crappy: 0%
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4 reviews, 6 user ratings

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by Brett Gallman

"Soderbergh wires this together with ease."
4 stars

The most obvious story to emerge out of “Haywire” is how Steven Soderbergh has found a star in and has coaxed a fine performance out of MMA fighter Gina Carano. This is no small feat, but that Carano does so while outshining an incredible ensemble of actors (and Channing Tatum) is doubly impressive. Soderbergh allows her to be the poised pulse of this elegantly crafted thriller that unfolds to the rhythm of her fisticuffs.

It also unfolds in a winding, wending fashion, starting in the middle of things, as contract killer Mallory Kane (Carano) finds herself on the run after being double-crossed and framed for murder by her employer (Ewan McGregor). We flash back to see how the seeds of this conspiracy were planted during a previous job in Barcelona that introduces the other key players, such as a government agent (Michael Douglas) and a Spanish businessman (Antonio Banderas).

Part of the appeal of “Haywire” (besides seeing Carano kick the crap out of everyone) is discovering how all of these guys fit in this web of conspiracy. While the screenplay here isn’t exactly novel, it’s remarkably efficient in both propulsion and intrigue--we know pretty much right off the bat that McGregor’s character is a worm, but loyalties and perceptions shuffle around a bit as the story moves forward. At its core, this is just a riff on the age-old revenge motif, with Carano eventually globe-hopping in an attempt to uncover just how deep the plot runs.

Soderbergh sleekly delivers the tale in his first crack at a pure action film. In an era where these types of movies have become plagued by shaky, chaotic, and borderline incoherent action, “Haywire” plays like a nice refresher course that reminds us what a lean, meticulously crafted spy thriller looks like. There’s something altogether relaxed and measured about it, as it’s a film that engrosses you with its story first before allowing you to drink in these methodically-realized sequences. At first blush, these sequences almost feel a little too relaxed--even an early shootout and foot-chase feel alarmingly calm--but it’s soothing to see an action film pull back and measure out its geography by holding shots for entire seconds at a time.

One of the film’s highlights is a rooftop sequence that finds Carano on the run from some authorities; I enjoyed how Soderbergh even keeps this a relatively low-key affair, as he presents it like a puzzle in the way he holds shots to reveal how Carano will get from point A to point B. Such an approach mimics the unwavering composure of its protagonist--she’s always poised, so it follows that Soderbergh’s lens rarely sways and swerves to disorient us. Even when he pulls in for the hand-to-hand combat, it’s no less smooth. This is where Carano obviously shines the most by making use of the physical talents she once harnessed in the octagon. That physicality translates well to the screen, particularly its blunt forcefulness; some of the administered blows are visceral and cringe-worthy.

These sort of fish-out-of-water star performances usually lend themselves to cringe-worthy acting as well, but “Haywire” avoids this. While Carano is a little mechanical at times, she commands the screen even when she’s matched up against not only the aforementioned names, but also guys like Bill Paxton and Michael Fassbender, who is ultra-suave here (and just sticking him in a tux will drum up the inevitable Bond whispers). She isn’t exactly hidden from the spotlight, either; I think it could have been easy for Soderbergh to consistently stick her in a bunch of well-staged action scenes and call it a day, but she’s given a chance to build rapport with Fassbender and Michael Angarano (who shows up as an innocent bystander unwittingly taken in as Carano’s sidekick when she commandeers his car).

Perhaps most refreshing is how Carano is allowed to be sexy without being a sex object; women kicking ass on film is nothing new (in fact, I couldn’t get Cynthia Rothrock out of my mind while watching “Haywire”), but seeing one that isn’t simultaneously a fetish object is nice. There’s never a sense that we should be amazed that this is some dainty girl pulling this stuff off (in fact, one line of dialogue has McGregor assuring Fassbender that considering her to be a woman would be a mistake). Instead, Carano is just an undeniably cool and altogether believable action star in her first starring role.

“Haywire” is cool all the way around, full of small, fine performances from a cast full of leading men who give way to Carano and Soderbergh. The latter steers with a sure hand, guiding it along to the beat of David Holmes’s jangly score that feels like it would have fit right into a 60s spy-thriller. It’s almost as if Soderbergh wants to take us back to those days, when it was enough for a film to be thrilling without being frantic. This is the rare time when you’re glad a film doesn’t live up to its name, as “Haywire” is crisp, slick, and always in control.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=21888&reviewer=429
originally posted: 01/21/12 03:58:06
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User Comments

1/07/13 KingNeutron A bit hard to follow, 4 for the film and 5 for Gina - looking fwd to more from her! 5 stars
6/03/12 mr.mike Not a grand slam but it grows on you. 4 stars
5/05/12 The Taitor A good to decent action movie esp. for Carano 1st movie, prob. won't buy/would watch again 4 stars
4/28/12 action movie fan good cast and fight scenes but needs more 3 stars
1/24/12 Devin Sabas I loved this kick-ass action movie. it had the heart of those spy/action movies of the 60's 5 stars
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  20-Jan-2012 (R)
  DVD: 01-May-2012


  DVD: 01-May-2012

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