Thursday, 26 January 2012

Review: Haywire

Year: 2012
Director: Steven Sodenbergh
Screenplay: Lem Dobbs
Starring: Gina Carano, Micheal Douglas, Ewan McGregor, Micheal Fassbender, Antonio Banderas

Synopsis is here:

Haywire is a film, which I found easier to like more than love. I can sense that many; expecting something a little more conventional, will find it extremely easy to hate. But let me say one thing, it's a Steven Sodenbergh film, one should expect something a little different. Take away those Ocean films and even his more mainstream features still can feel like a round peg in a square hole. Despite how that sounds, I do mean that is a good way.

Lean, mean and tightly crafted, Haywire is a volatile piece that doesn't outstay it's welcome. During it's stay however, we do get to jump and jetset around a variety of different locales to a retro 60's David Arnold soundtrack. All this while we follow Mallory, an ex-marine cum private sector special trying to find out (violently) who double crossed her, during her last job and why. To quote Bad Boys 2: "shit just got real".

Looking for anything too in-depth in a film like this; is much like eating a dry cracker to rehydrate yourself. My second paragraph has told you nearly everything that happens within the movie. This comes at a price however as the film does hit anything past the superficial. The film just doesn't give us enough to get a hold of. I found myself comparing the film to The Limey (also scripted by Lem Dobbs), a genre exercise which is equally as straight edged as this. However, despite Sodenbergh's 1999 feature being more experimental than this (non liner editing and the like), it still manages to have a solid emotional centre through Terrence Stamp's amusing yet strikingly sad performance.

The only strikes that land here are from the fists of the hard hitting Gina Carano whose one note performance is understandable considering the tightness of the script and lack of acting experience but struggles if the film even sniffed at trying to hit a station above ass kicking. The story is very typical spy affair, while it's difficult to find anything within the character of Mallory that stands out other than the obvious.

Is the first time casting of the MMA/Former American Gladiator a piece of stunt casting? Yes and No. In comparison to the likes of Brittany Spears (Crossroads), Christina Aguilera (Burlesque) or Mariah Carey (Glitter) Carano has not got the inbuilt fan-base to lie back on, nor does it feel like an expansion of a brand (although considering her maxim spread I may be wrong). Carano has a certain look and build that fits the character she plays. Having an known actress could have been distracting, particularly as the fight scenes are edited and shot in such a way to emphasise Carano's talents. However Gina is no Thespian and it shows, making it feel at times that Sodenbergh hired her because, why not? With this said, none of the acting really rises above a certain level.

Despite this the film is gorgeous to look at, happily hops from place to place in an amusing James Bond fashion and the fight sequences are expertly put together in long, unflinching, unbroken takes. There is a gimmicky feel to having Carano in the part but it is amazing to watch her in full flow. While the linked photoshoot may cause fapping within the teenage boy sector, Sodenbergh takes away the blatant sexuality. This gives us a character who can be looked at in the same way as any male figure if they were placed in the same position. It would be nice if the character, performance and story could catch up with the gender politics.

Note: Head to for a an interesting article on Carano's role within the movie and in the action movie dynamic.