Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Haywire

By Sati. Tuesday, April 24, 2012 , , , , , , ,
79/100 (93 min, 2011)
Plot: A black ops super soldier seeks payback after she is betrayed and set up during a mission.
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Writer: Lem Dobbs
Stars: Gina Carano, Ewan McGregor and Michael Fassbender

They gave her no choice. 

"Haywire" is all you can expect from the movie Steven Soderbergh does during considering retirement from film making - I see that he isn't going to do that after all from the trailer for "Magic Mike" which is a peculiar choice of a story for this director - it's entertaining and quit simple, but it still has distinctive style known from Soderbergh's films - slick cinematography, smooth editing and jazzy, elegant score. Another thing that will hint at this being his movie is the presence of many well known actors, who while still used in too big quantities than it is necessary aren't as underused as in "Contagion".

When it comes to Soderbergh's movies I often complain about that - there are so many well known people in his films and yet we never get to focus on each of them enough. In the effect his films are usually a classic case of style over substance - yes, it's all cleverly executed but who cares if all those stars are wandering around without getting a chance to shine? In "Haywire" we finally have a clear protagonist - Mallory Kane, ironically played by someone unknown to the average movie goer - Gina Carano.
Carano is actually a mixed martial arts fighter which makes for incredible fighting scenes in the movie - honestly some of the most complex, realistic and well choreographed I've ever seen in a movie - I wonder how many of the people involved in those scenes got seriously hurt. The most impressive one is her fighting scene with Michael Fassbender which oddly as brutal and savage as it is feels a little bit like a passionate dance, albeit filled with blood and shreds of glass. They move through the scene with such easiness and they plan their moves so cleverly it is impossible to look away, although it's simply two people beating each other up.

Carano is also a decent actress and she successfully carries the movie - because of her physique and her easiness in blending in the character of Mallory you can easily buy the fact that this woman is giving a lot of men the ass kicking of their lifetime. But the film is not just about those scenes - there is an intrigue, simple yet still hidden in a plot twists that keeps as going. We know as much as Mallory does and as her - we don't know who we can trust.
The film has one thing that always makes me want to watch it - no, it's not Fassbender - it's the fact it has music composed by David Holmes, who frequently works with Soderbergh (he is the one who made the soundtracks for "Ocean's 11" films, movies that are basically what they are because of the smoothness of the execution and the blinding shine of the stars). The score is elegant and despite being calmer than the scenes it fits in and makes for unusual experience, when while action is pumping the adrenaline in the frames, the score keeps the smooth atmosphere intact.

The supporting cast includes Michael Douglas and Antonio Banderas - the latter clearly having a lot of fun in the movie and the ending which features him and Carano is very amusing - that's another thing I loved about the movie - it knows exactly what it is and doesn't pretend to be some groundbreaking film it simply is not. There is also Channing Tatum here, who I hear is well known though I have no idea why. He is all right in his performance, but it's nothing memorable. Bill Paxton also shows up as Mallory's father.  Does he have much to do? It's Steven Soderbergh's film - I don't think I need to answer that.
Then there are two actors who I know many people wanted to have a scene together - Ewan McGregor and Michael Fassbender. They are both very good, especially Fassbender who has fun with his role of an icy, focused agent who poses as Mallory's husband during their mission in Dublin. There are also ulterior motives here which leads to the scene he has with McGregor - something that will no doubt be source of enjoyment for fans of both actors. McGregor usually appears in one of two variants he frequently plays - either an adorable man in search or something or a douchy, manipulative opportunist. Guess who he plays here.

"Haywire" is far from Soderbergh's best but it is definitely worth watching - it has great cast, fantastic action scenes, wonderful score and the story, while convoluted for the pleasure of discovering the secrets in the end for the sake of audience is itself very engaging. The film also gets a big plus from me for sustaining the pace throughout the film - it is one of the rare action movies that doesn't fall apart in the last act. From the beginning to the end the story flows steadily and the action is never too long or too boring. The cast is also well chosen and Soderbergh made a great choice in hiring Carano.

17 comments:

  1. I was left underwhelmed by this movie. Seemed stuck in the lower gears. I did love the fighting scenes though. Seems like a lot of Brazilian Jujitsu in there.

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    1. I'm the kind of person who falls on the ground when walking so the ability of these actors to do all those things blew my mind :)

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  2. I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks Soderbergh is a bit style over substance. I've never been a big fan despite the great casts. On the other hand, I quite enjoyed Contagion and I'm really looking forward to seeing this. Forgot how good the cast is till all those names got mentioned in your review!

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    1. The cast is amazing and I thought they were much better used than in Contagion, though I enjoyed the filmed itself.

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  3. I was slightly disappointed by it. For an action movie it felt slow and although Carano definitely has some awesome fight scenes I just couldn't connect to her character. I guess her acting didn't convince me enough.

    btw, looking forward to see what you are going to do with "The ten" relay race!

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    1. I really disliked the lack of the protagonist in Contagion so maybe that's why this one was a nice surprise for me :)

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  4. Margaret, I like how you put into words one of my main problems with Soderbergh.
    I thought Carano was great in this film. Finally a female action star with some meat on her bones that looks like she could snap my neck. Granted she could use some voice and diction/acting classes but this was a good first effort. Now if only everyone else involved with the film had put in as much effort. With that stellar cast I did not expect that she would be the one that had to carry the film.

    Nice review :-)

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    1. Thanks! Yes, she certainly looked like a gal capable of doing all these things. As much as I enjoy Jolie in action movies I'm always horrified she will snap in half because she is so skinny.

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  5. Ehh it was fun and some thrilling moments of cool-ass action, but other times, I felt like the film was very dull and barely had a story that would pull me in. Still, had its moments and its supporting cast does a very good job. Way better job than Carano. Good review Sati.

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  6. Nice review Sati,I'm glad you enjoyed this one. I really didn't like it though, I was fairly bored by it. I really wanted to like it but it just didn't happen for me!

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    1. I'm saddened, I thought it was pretty thrilling. Well, I guess it's just one of these movies who involves some and not the other.

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  7. Nice to see that you aprove it. I haven't seen it yet, so I appreciate your spoiler-free review.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by! If you like any of the actors in this film, I think you will like it.

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  8. Great review Sati!

    I agree this was an entertaining enough film. Carano did what she had to do.

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  9. The plot was hackneyed and the characters were flat. Soderbergh is a genius though. The bugger makes a brilliant movie like Contagion and then follows it up with this...

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