Who needs acting when you can just beat the crap out of everybody around?
Mallory Kane (Gina Carano) is a highly trained operative who works for a government security contractor in the dirtiest, most dangerous corners of the world. After successfully freeing a Chinese journalist held hostage, she is double crossed and left for dead by someone close to her in her own agency. Suddenly the target of skilled assassins who know her every move, Mallory must find the truth in order to stay alive.
Seeing that this is definitely Steven Soderbergh trying to eff with our heads in by giving us a non-experienced actress with a whole lot to do for one flick, I didn’t know what to really think going in. However, with his first step into the action genre, I can definitely say that he didn’t eff with us too bad here.
The one thing that Soderbergh does perfectly here is give us an action flick that feels way different from any other one that has been released within the past year or so. All of the fight sequences are filmed wonderfully with no score whatsoever, just going with the flow of the punches, kicks, and breaks while also being filmed in a very wide lense to give it this realistic feel. Yes, fighting sequences that are somewhat realistic, crazy right? Soderbergh just plays and plays with the whole conventions of what we come to know and see as an action flick and it seems like an experiment rather than an actual film, but an experiment that does a pretty good job none the less.
I also liked how Soderbergh kept everything very minimal. The film basically consists of people running, shooting, and fighting, all to the glorious sound of jazz music that made me feel as if I was in a little club in New Orleans. The plot is very simple and there isn’t a whole bunch of talking about what’s going on, or even talking in general. Soderbergh doesn’t feel the need to spell everything out to us and instead of giving us a highly confusing plot, he backs it up with a lot of ass-kicking to keep our minds avert on the screen without ever losing us, after we have just realized that this far far different from what we have seen from any other action flick.
The problem that this film runs into is that when the action isn’t going down, things start to get a little dull. When the film starts to lean towards its plot and doesn’t really give us much action to hold onto, the film starts to lose us mainly because the story just isn’t all that interesting in the first place and to be honest, we have seen the same premise done before. I understand that Soderbergh and his writers weren’t trying to rely on the plot as much as they were with the action, but it still could have been handled a lot better to fully keep our attentions when people weren’t getting their faces knocked in.
Another main problem with this flick comes with the whole casting of MMA star Gina Carano. Carano did not have any prior acting experience to this flick and for a character like Mallory Kane you have to have somebody that can look the part, which she definitely does. All of her action scenes are awesome and she definitely looks like that chick you do not want to piss off one bit let alone screw over in a huge-ass CIA exchange. However when it comes to actually talking like a bad-ass, Carano can’t do that.
I have to give Soderbergh credit for not leaving this inexperienced actor out to dry with this material, because she could have easily just gotten chewed up in every single scene but it’s just that Carano doesn’t do anything here at all. Her character feels like a big block of wood that has no emotions and gives off the same voice to every single response. Now take it for granted, the “voice” in this flick is not the same one she has in real life (it was apparently dubbed) but even if it wasn’t hers, it still sounds terrible because almost every line she drops, she sounds like she’s reading them right off the cue-card as it is. I hope that Carano is reading this now and wants to beat the shit out of me, but honestly baby, keep to your MMA career. But damn is she sexy!
The rest of the cast is very good though, which I do think was very deliberate considering Soderbergh definitely knew he couldn’t sell a film on just one chick who nobody outside of the MMA world knew. Ewan McGregor seems to having a lot of fun as the slimy and evil Kenneth; Michael Fassbender isn’t around for much as you could probably tell from the previews (and even the poster) but he still is pretty good with his devilish charm; Channing Tatum does an alright job here as Aaron; Bill Paxton is nice to watch as John Kane considering I didn’t know he did movies anymore; and Antonio Banderas and Michael Douglas show up here as the usual assholes they usually play in most of their recent films and do nice jobs as well. Basically, the whole supporting cast is great but it’s just a shame that Carano kind of makes us look past that with her stiff delivery.
Consensus: Haywire is definitely not the usual action flick we are so used to seeing nowadays, with realistic fight sequences, jazz music, and a very good supporting cast, but the problem this flick hits is with its leading star that can’t get through her lines and sort of just lets the whole film down in the process.