Haywire (2011)

As I’ve stated before, I have a love/hate relationship with the films of Steven Soderbergh. This one…I mostly love. It’s a surprisingly cool addition to the ‘Spy’ genre bolstered by a medley of great actors. In this one film, you have Michael Douglas, Channing Tatum, Antonio Banderas, Michael Fassbender, Bill Paxton and a weaselly Ewan McGregor. And then there’s the lead, MMA champ and sexy babe Gina Carano, new to the acting scene but handling the awesomely named Mallory Kane character with admirable dimension and humanity. The spy-on-the-run-post-betrayal story is nothing new, but this cast does a good job injecting a dose of realism into the cookie cutter characters and situations. The standout feature is the literally kick-ass fight scenes and energetic action set pieces scattered throughout. This one goes off in a direction rarely tread by action movies these days…onscreen action that you can see AND figure out (taking notes, Michael Bay?). A good deal of the scenes consist of ‘locked off’ shots that actually last longer than 2.2 seconds and let you see the performers…perform (what a concept!). The sequences all have their own flavors but the overall theme is ‘down n dirty’. These people look like they’re trying to kill each other! It’s great! Something else that works nicely is that Mallory Kane, being a less-cartoonish Jason Bourne-type, is ‘quick on the draw’ and very adept at intelligently utilizing her environment and even her opponents themselves as her tools and weapons. However, every so often, ‘reality’ seems to rear its ugly head and things simply don’t go according to plan; at times resulting in injury and/or capture. It’s a refreshing balance. Speaking of balance…there are a couple things that weren’t perfect. Some plot points seemed a little muddy in their connectivity and could’ve benefitted from a ‘tightening’. And there was an initial and somewhat questionable sub-plot involving an out-of-the-blue hostage/accomplice who Mallory spends a chunk of time confiding in, which results in some non-linear story-telling; in flashback form. It’s a bit disorientating. But these are small complaints. Haywire is a kinetic, gritty and smart addition to the espionage/action genre and Gina Carano is one to watch out for down the road. I’m sure she’ll kick many an ass and look great doing it. This flick is very much worth a look.

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