Mallory (Gina Carano) is a contract covert operative who is hired by the government to go on a mission that only she can handle. After some convincing by Kenneth (Ewan McGregor), Mallory packs her bags and heads to Dublin to meet with Paul (Michael Fassbender) another agent hired to help assist her with the mission. It only takes a few hours in Dublin before Mallory realizes that the mission is not what it seems, but instead part of a setup to assassinate her. Backed by her military training, Mallory will stop at nothing to seek her revenge on those who put her in harms way.
When coming out of Haywire, the first thing I asked myself was how many action movies have I seen in the past month or so? I decided to look it up when I got home and realized that I saw 8 action films within the past month and a half, which is a lot for me. I like to make things known as a critic of what movies are right up my alley and what movies aren’t. The action genre is a 50/50 split for me and after seeing so many in a short amount of time, I feel I have a much more accurate take on which ones are good and which ones aren’t.
With that being said, I was really kind of bored and insulted by majority of action films that I have seen in January specifically The Grey, Man on a Ledge, and Contraband. Being disappointed with all those releaes, I somehow was still kind of excited to see Haywire based on the solid cast and Steven Soderbergh being attached as the director. I went into this movie really hoping for a great film and I must admit, I did get a pretty solid action flick that actually dared (on some levels) to be different especially when comparing them to the films that I just mentioned.
While the story in Haywire is about as typical as one can expect from a Hollywood action flick, its Steven Soderbergh role behind the camera that makes this film different from the typical action flick . Soderbergh follows Mallory around from a close proximity like Darren Aronofsky does in his films. This gives the film a more authentic feel to it and makes the audience feel more a part of the film. He also portrays each character in a realistic fashion as they do in fact get injured and have bruises. Who would have thought that could happen in an action film and still be effective?
The acting in Haywire is a few notches above what you would get even out of the better Hollywood action film. Newcomer Gina Carano really delivers a solid performance despite the fact that this is her first acting gig and that she comes off a bit stiff at times. From a male perspective, Carano is easy on the eyes and I am glad that the film didn’t sink to the level of most action films do where they show unnessecary stripping scene because they have a hot female lead and yes, I am talking to you Man on a Ledge. Surrounding Carano are great actors like Michael Douglas, Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Bill Paxton, and Antonio Banderas all of which give solid performances, but have very little screen time. They each only have about 10-15 minutes and that is being generous.
As much as I am kind of bored with the dullness of kick and punch action sequences in movies, I have to give some credit here to Soderbergh for mixing it up. The score is incorporated into the film almost perfectly and ceases to exist during the action scenes, which makes these scenes come off as much more powerful rather than most action fans are used to. This film had no explosions and no cgi at all, which made it much more enjoyable and realistic for me to watch. It also challenges the audience to watch violence without distraction, which doesn’t seem to work well for the majority of moviegoers because they get uncomfortable and like to add in their own sound effects or laugh because they are not used to this type of approach in action films.
Where Haywire suffers is from its simplistic story. While I know that no action movie ever prides itself on creating an amazing story, I must ask writers why? I think if you had a really solid story and incorporated some action that it will make for a more interesting movie. There is an audience for more complex action films, thats why Christopher Nolan films are so successful. This is why I must ask why doesn’t someone else write action films that take this cliched story to the next level. I am not asking for Shakesphere, but a little more substance wouldn’t hurt at all.
Speaking of substance, the short 93 minute runtime was not nearly long enough for the large amount of characters being introduced in this film. The movie has so many characters yet none of them are ever really explained in detail. Which brings me to my main problem with the film, the movie doesnt spend enough time on the story even if it is simplistic. The story is cut in between action scenes and Mallory being on the run so its jumping around so much that I actually started getting a bit confused. When the film ended, I turned to Matt The Movie Analyst and asked him “was Michael Douglas a good guy or a bad guy?” and he responded with “I’m not sure.” That kind of says something about the poor layout of the story when its so simple and has no depth to it.
At the end of the day, Haywire raises the bar for a lot of the run of the mill action films. It proves that a decent action movie can be made with a small budget, solid cast, and no cgi or explosions. While Haywire is far from being a near-perfect masterpeice, it is an interesting take on the action genre mixing independent style direction with a big budget premise. I also liked how they made the female lead a more realistic character unlike something that Angelina Jolie would have portrayed if she was casted in this role. While Carano acting isn’t as steller as the rest of the cast, she fits the part perfectly and really kicks a lot of ass and looks good doing it. While I will always want more from an action movie, Haywire did a decent enough job keeping me interested and making me root for Mallory that I give it a solid passing grade.
MovieManMenzel’s final rating for Haywire is a 7 out of 10.