Haywire is a strange animal. It’s got some nifty set-pieces that really ought to transport you, a slimy Ewan McGregor, a pretty impressive cast of professionals who know how to act– and a seemingly charismatic female lead.
But it’s flat and outright boring at times. Gina Carano looks engaging, but is actually opaque and somehow doesn’t allow viewers access to her as an actual character.
All in all, it’s cosmetically and technically a fine film, but it lacks heart and punch.
Here’s a trailer:
Released January 20, 2012
Written by Lem Dobbs
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Starring Gina Carano, Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Michael Douglas, Michael Angarano, Channing Tatum, Bill Paxton, Antonio Banderas, and Matthieu Kassovitz.
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Mallory Kane (Carano) is a black-ops super soldier who works for a murky government agency doing pretty much any wetwork required, from assassination to extraction. After a successful operation in Barcelona during which we get to see Kane’s excellent skills (Carano is a female UFC champ), she is sent to Dublin for an ostensible operation.
It turns out that her handler (McGregor) and some folks who are full-on corrupt need Kane to be the scapegoat for some hazy deed so she is betrayed by her colleague, Paul (Fassbender). Kane survives the attempt on her life and is now on the run from the baddies. The line-up of morally ambiguous characters includes Alex Coblenz (Douglas), a potentially straight-shooter in the government, Rodrigo (Antonia Banderas in a beard that makes him resemble, rather remarkably, Saddam Hussein), and Aaron (Tatum) who has been Kane’s partner and may or may not be a good guy who is being duped.
Kane gets in a fight in a diner and flees, dragging Scott (Angarano), a helpful diner patron with a car, along. The story starts with this scene and then goes back in time to the events that led up to the diner confrontation.
So here we have your basic story about a secret agent with ridiculously good skills at dodging bullets and killing people being underestimated by the people who betrayed her. And the story follows along pretty much how you would expect, culminating in a showdown at Kane’s dad’s (Paxton) house.
The writing, pace, dialogue, and set pieces all deliver. It’s kind of funny how well these four elements do, when contrasted with a protagonist who simply sucks the energy from every scene that she’s in. Her eyes never light with life, her manner never moves very far at all from the manner of a piece of wooden furniture. Carano was given a huge opportunity to make a splash as a legitimate female action star–
But she can’t do it. She’s got the moves, but lacks the heart and the on-camera sizzle that you need to carry this kind of role. And all of this lifelessness is strange in a crisp, fast-paced film that Soderbergh does everything right with, not counting the poorly cast lead.
You might enjoy this movie, but you will more likely come out of your viewing experience wondering why the movie never really felt like it had a life of its own.
Finally, telling is the fact that the moviemakers artificially deepened Gina Carano’s voice for some reason. She’s got the moves, the dialogue is crisp, the story hits all the bases, but the lead simply cannot deliver the home run this movie is trying for.
Content warnings: plenty of violence and language
Writing: 4 Acting: 3 (everyone else did great) Overall: 3
Your life is haywire, isn’t it? Just crazy, I know. Treading water, barely keeping your head up.
You need to know that sharing this review on your social networks won’t make it any better, but it will make you feel better as you drown in life’s foibles. So feel good about yourself, eh?