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My Thoughts on ‘Haywire’

Ever since the era of Bourne Identity and Casino Royale, movies have turned the corner and mostly left behind the Crouching Tiger-meets-Matrix high-flying, slow-motion fights. There’s a new brand of brutality being practiced in film fighting. We movie fans can now hear the painful crushing of bone, the pounding of flesh, and the dull thud of a skull meeting a sidewalk better than ever. Personally, I believe this to be a positive. Lucky for us all, these fights welcome all genders.

Haywire, directed by the sometimes brilliant and usually interesting Steven Soderbergh, is an impressive spy/action/thriller in all the ways that a spy/action/thriller should be impressive. Soderbergh has expressed his admiration for the thrillers of the ’60s and ’70s, and he puts that passion to use very effectively in this film. Haywire feels like a throwback to a more thoughtful time when an action film didn’t mean non-stop explosions and jump cuts throughout. Instead, he sets us up with a story of a former Marine turned ass-kicking independent operative (played by Gina Carano) who finds herself a victim of some co-workers she thought she could trust, so she sets out to clear her name and get some revenge. She does so by kicking people with near surgical precision, and it’s really fun to watch. There’s relatively little cutting away, no unrelenting rock soundtrack, and no doves or spinning cameras.

Fun. That’s what Haywire exists for– fun. The betrayed spy, the exotic locales, the twisty, borderline illogical plot points– these are not particularly original ideas for a film. But Roger Ebert subscribes to something that I believe as well, and he says, “A movie is not what it’s about, but how it is about it.” Haywire is a well-made spy movie with an impressive supporting cast and a likable leading lady who is utterly believable as the most dangerous person in the room. Carano is not much of an actress (yet), but she luckily doesn’t have to stretch much more than her hamstrings in this movie. She has some difficulty emoting, though that can be attributed to her character, and she occasionally sounds a bit stilted and wooden. However, she is a gifted athlete (in case you don’t know, she hurts people for a living) and she has genuine charisma and charm, which is more than can be said for many accomplished and popular actors (I’m looking at you, Kevin Costner). Perhaps best of all, she never delivers a goofy “Oops, I broke a nail” or PMS joke, or some other female-centric, Charlie’s Angels-style nonsense. The legitimacy of guys like Michael Douglas, Ewan McGregor, and Michael Fassbender doesn’t hurt either. Carano is definitely the star of the movie, but all of her supporting men bring some texture to the scenes they’re in. Plus, her fight with Fassbender in a swanky hotel suite is one for the ages. It’s a stand out in a movie full of great hand-to-hand battles.

Haywire is a tightly written and directed flick. In fact, it’s so tight that I wish it was longer. The movie might have benefited from fleshing out the plot a bit or giving Carano’s character some more backstory. But honestly, another half-hour of watching her break necks and spin-kick guys in the face would have been fine with me, too.

  1. DiDo
    January 21, 2012 at 12:48 am

    Well, if you like an action flick, that usually means it’s pretty damn awesome.

    • shortcutsla
      January 22, 2012 at 9:51 pm

      I’m easy to please. If enough people get kicked in the head, I’m on board.

  1. February 13, 2013 at 7:48 am

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