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Reader Request: Haywire


This is a long-overdue Reader Request that I finally got to see because I didn’t have to pay for it. Thank God, too, because what is an action film that has no dialog, no real explosions, no purpose, weird music and a beautiful woman who beats men unconscious with her legs? Not much. Well…Haywire is just that.

Grade:

Gina Carano (of mixed martial arts fame) stars as super Marine Mallory Kane. Like most spy/soldier films, she is betrayed. That’s it. Michael Angarano (Sky High, Almost Famous, The Forbidden Kingdom, my high school), Channing Tatum, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Michael Fassbender, Bill Paxton and Ewan McGregor provide the talent backups and punching bags for Carano.

The one thing (apart from Carano) that really sticks out about Haywire is Steven Soderbergh’s love for David Holmes. The music throughout Haywire is more or less identical to the Ocean’s # films. If you can remember that sound, you are no doubt in agreement that this does not work for when there is fighting and killing. It makes everything happening on screen more methodical, but also completely mundane and boring.

Soderbergh clearly had little faith in Carano delivering lines because the ones she does get are few and far between. Actually, no one really says much throughout. Michael Douglas, Ewan McGregor and Antonio Banderas provide most of the story, but you can hardly understand the latter. Fortunately, the story is completely useless to begin with, so nothing is missed.

What Haywire becomes is a chance to see a woman with a pretty face and big chest (I usually wouldn’t mention it, but when you see the tight shirts and notice the rib-height camera, you can’t ignore it) who actually knows how to fight. When she gets the chance to beat up Tatum or Fassbender and their doubles, we see her obvious training and skills. Leg locks and arm bars are prevalent in this film.  For once it is actually refreshing to see this, as you know the actress is fully capable of doing that with literally anyone you throw in the scene with her. Instead of choreographed stuff, she is knowledgeable and capable.

I actually wish they would have given her a broader chance to try her hand at acting because honestly, she wasn’t half-bad. When she did have to show something, she never dragged a scene down or ruined a moment. Hopefully she’ll get another chance, but even with a second try, there will never, realistically, be an escape for her from this genre.

My final gripe with Haywire is the penultimate “battle.” Semi-spoiler—if you care—the fight with Ewan McGregor is just awful. For starters, McGregor isn’t physically imposing. I’m sure he’s been called a “nancy boy*” at some time or another, so him against Carano is simply unrealistic. (sidenote: since the fighting and stunts are realistic, it’s impressive it takes this long to get a ridiculous scene)

Next, the camera work for this scene tries to make up for McGregor’s diminutive presence by showing EVERY SINGLE CAMERA ANGLE imaginable. Literally, yes literally, every three seconds the angle jumps so we get a 360-degree view of Carano beating the hell out of him. It’s nauseating, frustrating and makes you wonder how many times they had to shoot the scene because the cameras change in such a way that there’s no way you could not see the other cameras.

Please excuse my rambling. Unless you are genuinely interested, Haywire is not worth your time.

*To be clear, I like Ewan McGregor a lot. Seriously though, wouldn’t you feel confident going toe-to-toe with him?

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