Directed by Oscar® winner* Steven Soderbergh (Contagion
), this dynamic action-thriller introduces mixed martial arts (MMA) superstar Gina Carano as Mallory Kane, a black-ops agent for a government security contractor.
After freeing a Chinese journalist held hostage, Mallory is double-crossed and left for dead – by someone in her own agency. Suddenly the target of assassins who know her every move, Mallory unleashes the fury of her fighting skills to uncover the truth and turn the tables on her ruthless adversary.
Featuring Carano performing her own high-adrenaline stunts and an all-star cast including Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Bill Paxton, Channing Tatum, Antonio Banderas and Michael Douglas, HAYWIRE
is explosive movie entertainment.
Gentleman filmmaker Steven Soderbergh leads a pretty charmed professional life exploring themes, genres, and intensely personal subjects that capture his fancy any time the spirit moves him. Thanks largely to the huge success of the Ocean's
series, he's earned A-list clout and pretty much carte blanche to follow the combination of whimsy or serious interest that has become his M.O. in alternating projects that are either for "them" (Hollywood capitalists) or strictly for him. Hot on the heels of Contagion
, his deadly serious and terrifyingly authentic thriller from late 2011, Haywire
is a different kind of exercise in genre and formal technique, but cut from the same Soderbergh cloth of enthusiasm and impeccable craftsmanship. Both movies also seem to bring together the for-me and for-them elements of his career, letting him follow a highbrow personal style while also creating terrific pieces of entertainment that are easily accessible to the wants of cinema sophisticates and lovers of thrills, action, and dramatic ingenuity alike. Haywire
is certainly more fun than Contagion
as an out-and-out action extravaganza, with a silly and largely superfluous plot thread wound around private covert intelligence operatives, the shadowy government entities that employ them, and the double-crosses that ensue when operations go wrong. Using a back-and-forth narrative structure that shifts time and scrambles events as they unfold, Haywire
is primarily a showcase for Gina Carano, a superstar in the world of mixed martial arts. Carano makes her screen debut as Mallory Kane with understated hotness and a constant barrage of fighting stunt work that reduces almost every high-profile costar into a mass of broken bones. The series of operations she instigates or participates in take her on a stylishly globetrotting adventure to Spain, Ireland, New Mexico, rural New York State, and points in between. She stumbles into and wriggles out of danger everywhere she goes with aplomb, kicks, punches, strangulations, and gunshots that are spectacularly choreographed and do not rely on flash cuts or the kind of utterly confusing shifts in spatial relationships that mark most run-of-the-mill action sequences. Though the substance is largely beside the point--motivations and resolutions are not nearly as important as the polished, methodical, or frenzied bouts of kinetic energy--there is some semblance of comprehension conveyed in the spare script by Soderbergh's screenwriter collaborator Lem Dobbs. Carano is only able to strike a few notes in her acting ability between kicks, leg strangulations, and other acrobatic acts of violence. Fortunately the rest of the ensemble cast make the most of their supporting roles by lending winking humor and reliable nuance to parts that might otherwise seem like stock caricatures. Ewan McGregor is charmingly devious as the private black-ops chief who is Mallory's boss and also her ex-boyfriend. Michael Fassbender plays an MI6 agent who proves no match for Mallory's Special Forces training; ditto Channing Tatum, who also underestimates Mallory's prowess as a lover and a fighter. Antonio Banderas is a mysterious go-between who plays a crucial role in the fiasco that comes to be known simply as "Barcelona," and Michael Douglas stands tall as an exasperated government pencil pusher who resents yet can't operate without the help of private-sector security and intelligence operatives. In spite of her inexperience, Carano holds the screen with her smoldering charisma as Soderbergh pours on the tense or languorous action with wit and skill. Haywire
may be a trifle in the continuing experimental career of Steven Soderbergh, but it is a delicious confection nonetheless. --Ted Fry