HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Starring: Gina Carano, Channing Tatum, Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Michael Fassbender
Directed by: Stephen Soderbergh
Written by: Lem Dobbs
Runtime: 93 Minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: May 1st, 2012
HTS Overall Score:79
Stephen Soderbergh has given audiences a vast array of films and film styles throughout his career, from the light and witty caper of "Ocean's 11" and its sequels, to his indie-style plague thriller "Contagion", without turning away his audience, which, in my opinion, is a credit to his unique and passionate directing style. I was very excited going into "Haywire", being a huge Soderbergh fan hoping for another masterpiece, but willing to accept a solid spy actioneer, at the very least. Soderbergh fans will instantly recognize the yellowish tint he employs to his more action-oriented pieces, giving them a rather 70's spy thriller vibe. Unfortunately, that's the first, and mostly the last, piece of typical Soderbergh flair that we will see throughout the movie. We are immediately thrust into the middle of the plot as Mallory Kane (Carano) is being extracted by another agent from a seemingly botched job. However, suspicions arise and the other agent (Tatum) attacks her and tries to forcefully apprehend Mallory. Escaping by the skin of her teeth, Mallory forces a teenager to give her his car and patch up her bullet wounds mid-driving. Here she begins to unfold her tale of betrayal and deception to the youngster.
It seems that Mallory's boss and ex-lover Kenneth (Ewan McGregor) sent her on a mission with a freelance spy named Paul (Michael Fassbender) to be the "eye candy" (as Mallory Kane put it) and ends up being attacked by Paul. Unraveling the threads, she finds out that Kenneth set her up and put out a burn notice on her. One thing we learned from our encounter with Tatum earlier in the film is that Mallory Kane is not one to take things lying down. Using the impressive skills that she honed into an art, she starts her own hunt of the men who betrayed her, trying to find out who else is involved and why Kenneth stabbed her in the back. Most of this exposition is employed through the use of flashbacks as Kane narrates. The film comes to a point when the federal agent who contracted Kenneth's firm to do the job allies with Mallory and points her in Kenneth's direction as he proceeds to interrogate her father concerning her whereabouts.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8611as[/img]I found it a rather blase experience. There was no emotional attachment created for these characters, so the audience has a hard time caring whether they live or die. Soderbergh's script seemed unnaturally truncated, like there was much left on the cutting room floor that would have fleshed out an overly convoluted and tension-less film. The trademark wit is missing, and surprisingly enough, it seemed that Bill Paxton and Gina Carano were the only two actors who really put any effort into it at all. For a film directed by an excellent director, and with so many A-list actors included, I was surprisingly disappointed. Now, don't get me wrong: "Haywire" was not a horrible movie by any means. There were great action scenes, and the lead actually made me BELIEVE that she could really take care of herself instead of having to use stunt doubles, flexibility, and handycam work. This appears like a problem that started and ended on the cutting room floor.
Rated R for some violence
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8612[/img]Lionsgate's 1080p AVC transfer is a thing of beauty, as long as one recognizes the cinematic techniques for which that Soderbergh is famous. Like most Soderbergh spy movies, "Haywire" sports that light yellowish/red tint that one would associate with a 70's film. The film is very faithful to the theatrical release that I saw and, in my opinion, looks even better. I see no visible artifacting, and the oversaturated colors that Soderbergh employs are bright and colorful without hedging out the rest of the visual spectrum. Night-time scenes are the best in my opinion: Mallory hides in shadows that are not too deep thus keeping her invisible to the audience and I saw no color banding in my eyes. Easily one of my favorite transfers of the year.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8613[/img]"Haywire's" audio seems to be just as different from your average actioneer as the story line. The film starts with a rather dialoge driven track that seems to be rather subdued and mild, but once the action starts, the track kicks into full gear giving us a sonic driven attack of gunshots and careening side channel action through the streets of Barcelona. "Haywire" gives us a roller coaster of a ride in terms of consistency, one scene being soft, subdued with only a very 70's ish background score only to jump to the front row and rouse us out of our seats with an aggressive display of explosions or hand to hand combat scenes. I have one gripe with the track and two praises. My gripe: Channing Tatum and Laura San Giacoma both mumbled their lines so much I had to turn on subtitles sometime to hear what they were saying. Praise wise, I have to give Soderbergh credit for using much more realistic gunshot pops rather than the overly loud and bass heavy gunshots of your typical action movie. Also, the soundtrack was purely brilliant. A nice soft 70's elevator sound permeated the whole movie, not once did you have your typical action soundtrack that tries to keep the audience on their toes the whole movie, whipping them into a frenzy of anticipation. Rather it let us sit back and watch the movie unfold without our audio senses being manipulated.
• Gina Carono In Training - An interesting behind the scenes look at Carano's MMA history as well as some in depth deconstruction of the films fight choreograpy. As a martial artist myself it was incredibly satisfying to see the amount of actors doing their own stunts and the pure skill the Carono demonstrates in her fight scenes
• The Men of Haywire
I had high hopes for "Haywire", being a massive Soderbergh buff, and this movie had everything I like in an action movie, Guns, knives, intrigue, martial arts and a gorgeous lead who could beat me senseless without blinking. Unfortunately, it fell flat without hitting home. There was nothing bad in the way it was executed and the acting was very solid for an action movie, it just felt.... The best way I can describe it is that it felt "lacking." There was nothing that sucked one into the story and made one feel connected to the characters. Everything felt a bit truncated, both script wise and editing wise, as if there was a lot of material left out. I enjoyed the movie for the action movie it was, but I was disappointed that for a Soderbergh film, it was very simple and forgettable. Overall, I would say this is worth a rental.
Recommendation: Rent it