An elite freelance operative (Gina Carano) finds herself on the run when she’s framed by her boss (Ewan McGregor), a man she knew she should not have trusted as much as she did.
Here’s what I wrote about this film in my theatrical review:
“Steven Soderbergh isn’t interested in making conventional movies, that’s been a given for quite some time now. Even his blockbuster George Clooney all-star throwaways Ocean’s Eleven and its two sequels are hardly run of the mill or routine, and for all their glossy theatrics they’re still made with an old school retro sensibility eschewing the normal juvenile whiz-bang silliness affecting the majority of its peers. His movies move at their own idiosyncratic pace, their own measured style, and whether he’s doing something gigantic and sprawling like Traffic or Contagion or intimate and personal like Schizopolis or Bubble Soderbergh’s imprint is as obvious as it usually welcome.
Now comes Haywire, the director’s take on the spy-on-the-run genre featuring MMA superstar Gina Carano starring as a multitalented freelance operative named Mallory Kane who finds herself forced to clear her name after her latest assignment goes horribly wrong. Set up by her boss Kenneth (Ewan McGregor) to take the fall for a murder she didn’t commit, the former Marine uses all of her skills to extricate herself from the situation, heading home to see her military novelist father (Bill Paxton) knowing that those responsible for her situation will likely try to use him as leverage against her.
Soderbergh and writer Lem Dobbs worked together on The Limey, the sensational revenge thriller that should have in all reality earned star Terence Stamp an Academy Award nomination. While I can’t say anyone involved here deserves the same, and while it goes without saying that Carano doesn’t belong in the same lofty stratosphere as an actor Stamp resides within, that doesn’t make Haywire any less sensational. Dobbs and Soderbergh know this genre like the back of their hands, love playing within all its intricately thrilling nuances, and seeing how it all plays itself out and watching Mallory exact her brutal, full-impact revenge is a complete and total joy.
There is no fat here, no extra material in need of being excised. The movie begins with a furious frenzy finding Mallory extricating herself from an altercation in a tiny roadside café and then moves backwards from there. The highly trained spy tells her story to a supposed nobody named Scott (Michael Angarano), chronicling a globe-trotting tale involving a Chinese journalist (Anthony Brandon Wong), a pair of government bureaucrats (Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas), a fellow operative (Channing Tatum) and a shadowy British agent (Michael Fassbender) who isn’t quite what he appears to be.
Soderbergh and Dobbs allow information to flow with furious speed, all of it delivered with a blistering coherence eschewing the complex labyrinthine nature of the mystery itself. Everything flows together with spectacular ease, building to a brutally pleasing climax fitting the tone and the nature of the tale perfectly. The pair have delivered a picture that is in the same style of The Limey, that harkens back to the same sort of signature revenge-fueled pyrotechnics of Point Blank, Bullitt or the original Get Carter.
Carano is something of an emotional liability, and while her physical perfection whether it be in one-on-one combat or in her series of hair-raising escapes is undeniable her ability to find inner depth inside her character is decidedly one-note. She looks great, and I believed her in the role right from the start, but there was a detachment that did keep me at arm’s length from Mallory right from the start. She’s a ferocious enigma, nothing more, a fact that becomes strikingly evident every time she’s forced to share the screen with the likes of performers as talented as Douglas, Fassbender, McGregor or Banderas.
Yet the film still works, oftentimes magnificently. The action sequences are filmed with a visceral fluidity making them immediate and hard-hitting. Better, at only 93-minutes the movie moves as if it were shot out of a canon, everything driving towards a giddily joyful conclusion that had me smiling broadly.
I’m not sure Soderbergh’s late 1960’s, early 1970’s visual and audio style will suit modern tastes, his forgoing of the quick cutting of Michael Bay enterprise or shaky-cam esthetics of a Peter Greengrass thriller will please the younger demographic. But here’s hoping it will because Haywire is a total kick in the pants, an enjoyable freestyle effort that swings violently back and forth with raucous enthusiasm, Soderbergh’s January effort a signature sensation I’m sure I’ll be treasuring for the rest of the year.”
Love this movie. It gets better every time I watch it. At the moment, along with Kill List, The Secret World of Arrietty and The Hunger Games it’s one of my absolute favorite films of the entire year. To put it even more bluntly, there’s a great chance I actually like it more than all of those, and I think those three pictures are downright awesome. See it right away.
Haywire is presented on a single-layer 25GB Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video along with a 1080p 2.40:1 transfer.
This disc features English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and includes optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles.
Extras here include:
· Gina Carano in Training (16:03)
· The Men of Haywire (5:29)
Not a lot, and the absence of a commentary track is annoying, but the featurette focusing on Carano is terrific, making up somewhat (if only somewhat) for the lack of anything else remotely substantive.
Haywire is still one of my absolute favorite motion pictures of 2012. It has a strong shot to be on my end-of-year top ten list. That just about says it all.