The latest film from Director Steven Soderbergh (“Traffic”, “Erin Brokovich”, “Contagion”) and the first for MMA superstar Gina Carano hit theatres this weekend. “Haywire” is the story of a double-crossed secret agent on the run from her agency. Set up and sold out, she’s on the run and out to get revenge against those who wronged her.
Sound hackneyed? Been there, done that? Well, it is to a certain extent. With the exception of the fact that it features a female action lead, “Haywire” certainly isn’t out to blaze any new trails.
What it does do is feature first class directing, an excellent cast from top to bottom, and incredible fight sequences. This movie could wind up being the debutant party for future action heroine Gina Carano.
I wont spend much time encapsulating the plot of “Haywire”. You’ve seen it, you know it. Secret agent goes on a mission, and before you know it, they’re being set up and framed for some act of treason, and we’re off to the races.
It’s been done a thousand times, but that never even bothered me.
From the opening scene, Soderbergh sets a fantastic pace and tone. This is an action movie, staring a star who can FIGHT. And Soderbergh is a sharp enough guy to fully take advantage of that. So within five minutes of the curtain going up, Carano is in the kind of fight scene you have to see to believe. Full out fighting and punching each other, take downs and struggling to get each other in submission holds. I had the pleasure of attending this panel at last years Comic-Con, and the fight scenes were front and center in the discussions. Carano is a Mixed Martial Artist. So… they really hit her. And… she really hit back. Lots of injuries were reported.
But the action of the film goes beyond the hand to hand fight scenes. There aren’t any MI:4 type set pieces or anything, but Soderbergh keeps the movie clipping at a pace that everything feels action oriented, even phone conversations. There’s some short but sweet car chases, a quick shoot out or two, but most of all Soderbergh keeps the pacing brisk, the editing tight, and the dialogue sparse. He sets it all to a propulsive funk/pop score and we’re off to the races.
Carano herself is laudable. Is she a great actress? Hell no. But neither were any number of male action stars you can name. She more than held her own, and due to the fact she’s the one throwing down, you wind up invested in her. She wows you with her fighting, looks great and doesn’t get in her own way by exposing any shortcomings she may have as an actress. Of course, having a director like Soderbergh helps. He’s not going to hang her out to dry. He protects her and makes her look good. At the end of the day, I was hoping I’d see more of her, as this is a very good martial arts action movie.
It helps that she has a LOADED supporting cast. Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Michael Fassbender, Channing Tatum, Bill Paxton, and Ewan McGregor all play key roles. This isn’t going to rank in any of their top five roles or anything, but they’re all high calibre talent, and stocking the movie across the board with actors of note and skill lends the movie an added degree of credibility.
It all adds up to a very entertaining movie experience. It’s well-directed, has a boatload of famous actors, a breakout introduction of a female action lead, and some of the best fight scenes in recent memory, maybe even ever. I’d listen to someone if they made that argument. There wasn’t a lot of meat on its bones otherwise, so I can’t give it an A range grade, let’s just say it’s an enthusiastic -