If good looks could kill…

If good looks could kill…

Worth It
Jan 25, 2012
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When I first heard about Haywire I assumed it would be like all the other sports-star-turned-movie-star films (i.e., recipe Jean-Claude Vandamme, Steven Segal and Hulk Hogan). But MMA’s female champ, Gina Carano, is so beautiful (and frightening) that I couldn’t resist checking it out. Plus, I figured with Steven Soderburgh directing, how bad could it be?

Haywire follows covert CIA operative , Mallory Kane (Carano), as she manoeuvres carefully through a scheme which is set up to take her out and use her as a cover up for high-level corruption in the American government. At first she is unaware, but the moment she learns that she is being targeted as a patsy, she moves into serious ass-kicking mode. As Kane and other agents, all of whom she is unable to trust, travel around the globe playing their parts in this complex cat and mouse spy-thriller, we slowly learn who the good and bad guys are, and what exactly is being covered up.

Like most other Soderburgh films, Haywire has an ever unfolding plot with lots of twists and turns. At the same time, he leaves lots of room for character development and sets his signature mood for tension and anticipation. Gina Carano is outrageously gorgeous and is positively electric during her fight sequences (which are numerous). Being a champion MMA fighter, the authenticity with which she delivers her action is refreshing real, making the audience cringe and gasp when she attempts to snap arms and break noses. While she’s no Meryl Streep, she actually does a descent job at acting, despite what a lot of the critics are saying. In fact, considering she’s surrounded by a serious cast of seasoned actors (Michael Douglas, Michael Fassbender and Ewen Macgregor, to name a few), she holds her own quite well. But again, it’s not her acting chops that got her the film; it’s her muay thai chops.

I imagine with a different screenwriter and your typical action director at the helm, Haywire would have easily become a mindless romp through cheezy action sequences and painfully unreal dramatic discourse. And this is where I give Soderburgh most of the credit. He’s a gifted director with the ability to make unreal plots seem completely believable. Because of his clout, he is able to assemble amazing actors to bring further believability to the screen. I have no doubt that without him, this film would have definitely gone “straight-to-DVD”.

That said, it does have it’s flaws. The main one is that the pacing does seem to meander a little too much. Haywire could have benefited from another edit session. If they trimmed a few sections and tightened it up by 10-15 minutes, it would have been edge-of-your-seat perfection. Instead, it suffers from scenes like, Carano chasing a bad guy through city streets and alleyways for a painfully long time only to catch up with him at a point when the audience doesn’t care anymore. But, once she does catch him the ass-whoopin’ is pretty exciting. As well, if you’re not paying attention, the storyline does become rather complicated and can seem convoluted. But, I think that issue is more with who’s watching than with the movie.

All that said, if you’re a fan of international espionage, spy-thrillers, you’ll definitely get a kick out of Haywire. It offers a complex and interesting story, filled with lots of exciting action sequences, and a superb cast of characters. Not to mention, Gina Carano is pretty easy on the eyes…when she’s not snapping necks.

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Craig the Critic

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