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Monday, February 6, 2012

Movie Review: HAYWIRE


"You shouldn't think of her as being a woman. That would be a mistake."
-- Kenneth

Haywire is a 2012 action film directed by Steven Soderbergh that features women's wrestling star Gina Carano in her first starring role in a feature film. After completing a routine mission, special ops agent Mallory (Carano) hopes to come home and take a break from her job as a type of hitman-for-hire for the government. However, Kenneth (Ewan McGregor), the head of her firm, comes to her and pleads her to take a simple, two-day mission in Dublin and accompany a British agent (Michael Fassbender) and pose as his wife. Mallory soon realizes that the entire mission has been a set-up, and she quickly tries to make her way back to the United States in order to determine how she got caught up in the mess.

When I first started hearing about Haywire, I thought it might be another experimental venture for Soderbergh after he had some moderate critical success with his 2009 film, The Girlfriend Experience, which featured former porn star Sasha Grey. This time, he decided to take women's wrestling star Gina Carano and create a film around her ability to fight rather than her ability to act. Perhaps you can see where my initial reservations may have lied. Despite this, the film opened to fantastic critical reviews - it currently holds an 80% approval rating on, where it has received the following consensus:

Haywire is a fast and spare thriller, with cleanly staged set pieces that immerse you in the action.
So, with such high accolades, I figured I'd give the film a shot of my own.

I have to say, I'm a tad bit disappointed with the final product. While Carano's acting ability, albeit shallow, is not enough to slow this movie down on its own, there's definitely something lacking here. A lot of the positive reviews I've read have cited a strong and clever screenplay, but I'm not really getting that from this particular film. All I see is your basic plotline: great covert agent is set-up by their agency, and they have to fight their way for survival and for revenge. How many films can we list that have the same basic storyline? I feel as though I've seen it a dozen times before, and while we do get a couple of interesting twists and turns here and there, we don't get enough to set Haywire apart from any other film in the genre. At the same time, the film just seems to move relatively slowly. While the action sequences are well-choreographed and prove to be fast-paced, each individual scene ultimately drags on much longer than is necessary. The movie started out as quite a bore, and it never really revved its engines for me. And considering the action is where the real treats should have lied, I'd have to say that the film's screenplay is one of its biggest detractors.

We have a very interesting cast list for this particular film, and I have to chalk it up to Soderbergh's name to have brought in some of the talent here. There isn't much to say about Carano's performance except that, with a little bit of time, she might make a decent action star. However, some of the big-name stars in this film just seem a little out of place. McGregor is pretty good as one of the central characters, and I thought Fassbender was decent with the time he was given, even if it was much less time than he deserved. Also be on the lookout for the likes of Channing Tatum, Antonio Banderas, Michael Douglas and Michael Angarano, all of whom fall victim to the less-than-stellar screenplay. It's interesting to see them in a film like this, but their presence doesn't necessarily enhance or detract from the movie in any way. It almost feels like they were only there as a favor for Soderbergh himself.

At the end of the day, the reason Haywire fails is that it proves to be a bit of a bore when it could have been a high-octane, action-packed thrill ride. Sure, the acting's a little shoddy, but I think a lot of that is the result of a lackluster screenplay that didn't offer the actors any room to expand on their characters. Still, if you're looking for a couple good fight scenes, this might be right up your alley. Just know that the fights are few and far in between, so you may just want to look somewhere else.

Movie Review Summary
Grade: D-
2 Thumbs Down

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