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Haywire – review

Haywire is the new film from Steven Soderbergh, who’s last film Contagion was just released a few months prior.  In fact the first preview I saw for Haywire was prior to it.  The film stars former MMA fighter and American Gladiator Gina Carano as Mallory Kane, a contract gun for hire who mostly does government funded jobs.  The film begins with Mallory meeting Aaron, an associate played by Channing Tatum.  They meet at a diner in the middle of nowhere and it’s clear right away that Aaron has specific orders to bring Mallory in, but she’s not going to be doing that easily.  The film then tells us the story of Mallory, and how she got in to the predicament she’s in.

The film flips to a job in Barcelona in which Mallory and Aaron are hired to save a man who is being held kidnapped.  Mallory is all business and keeps her distance from Aaron and the others hired on to help her with the job.  Once the job’s complete she can head home to the sanctity of her home, but it seems there are always jobs of this nature popping up one after the other, and she’s immediately offered one.

Kenneth, played by Ewan McGregor, is the director of the firm that Mallory freelances for, he also just so happens to be her ex-boyfriend.  Kenneth has another job available for Mallory and begs for her to take it.  It’s easy money playing babysitter in Dublin for a few days playing the wife of an MI-6 british agent Paul, played by the always delightful Michael Fassbender.  Reluctantly she agrees, but once she is in Dublin she learns that this is no ordinary job and that she may end up being the target in this whole thing.  She soon goes rogue to find out the truth about everything and everyone involved.

Soderbergh is great at making all sorts of films that fit in many genres.  He makes big blockbusters, and straight to Netflix streaming indie pics as well.  Haywire sits somewhere in between his Ocean’s Eleven, and The Girlfriend Experience starring porn star Sasha Grey.  Gina Carano is for this movie what Sasha is for The Girlfriend Experience. Soderbergh likes to give leading roles to people that closely mirror their real lives.  Carano is good here.  You can tell she knows how to handle a fight, and she’s not that bad of an actress either.  Sure she has her moments where she stumbles along a bit, but they are very few.  The fight scenes are very interesting too.  Soderbergh chooses not to throw in loud punching and crashing sound effects, but has the fight sequences look and feel a lot more realistic, which may put off your mainstream action goer, but I can appreciate this direction.

The film takes place over the course of only a few days and lots of the scenes are played out in real time for a substantial portion of the film.  It’s a great case of cat and mouse, and Soderbergh takes his time building the scenes instead of throwing in flashy effects and high speed chases and explosions.  The film reminded me a lot of action films from the 1970’s such as The French Connection in how the film progresses and flows from action to scene to action scene.  Even the music sounds like it was plucked from the 70’s as a jazz/funk fusion to pulse the film along.

There are a lot of great actors that pop in here and there with the  main story-line, Michael Douglas plays a government director, Antonio Banderas an international contact, and Bill Paxton rounds out the cast as Mallory’s father, an author and military man.  Soderbergh knows how to make an entertaining film, and knows how to make it his own, and that’s exactly what you’re going to get here.  It’s an intelligent film and takes its time for us to think about what is going on, and also enjoy the action, instead of being an orgy of excess like most action films today. It’s not your run of the mill action film, and some people may be put off by its style, but it’s a fun ride.

Grade: B