When I saw the trailer for Haywire I was instantly hooked. This was my kind of movie. I love watching a believable female lead do damage, a la The Bride in Kill Bill. No weak “chick” fights, I wanna see something real. To that end, Haywire seemed like it would deliver. It stars Gina Carano, a real-life world champion MMA fighter. If nothing else, the scenes promised to be authentic. When I saw Michael Fassbender drop her with a sucker punch, I was sold.
The man behind the lens is acclaimed director Steven Soderbergh (Ocean’s Thirteen, Out of Sight), and his imprint is clear. Haywire was slick and stylish, even when the action turned nasty. The non-linear storytelling is another common feature of Soderbergh’s movies. Haywire opens with our heroine outlining a mission gone wrong. Carano is Mallory Kane, a covert operative who does freelance work for the government. I think. She was sent on a rescue mission to recover a hostage, a Chinese journalist. When he winds up dead, Mallory learns that her superiors have attempted to frame her for his murder. The storyline wasn’t too complicated, but there were little things that didn’t add up here and there. One minute it appears that everyone is in on the betrayal, the next minute it seems as if key people are unaware. Also perplexing was the fact that no reason for the betrayal was ever presented. Mallory hadn’t acquired any new enemies and was admittedly an asset to her employer. So why was she set up? I guess I can just go along with the idea that she was expendable, but there were a couple of problems in the details for this flick.
Despite its flaws, I found Haywire to be enjoyable largely because of Carano. It’s still odd to see a man and woman fight on screen as equals, and I couldn’t help rooting for Mallory to prevail. For an inexperienced actress, I thought Carano gave a capable performance, and it wouldn’t surprise me if she reprised the role in the future. It looks like this movie died relatively quickly at the box office, despite its noteworthy cast. Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class), Michael Douglas (Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps), Antonio Banderas (Puss in Boots), and Channing Tatum (The Eagle) round out the cast nicely, though they aren’t given great material to work with. Usually Soderbergh’s movies are better than this, but fortunately Carano’s deft fighting ability was enough to sustain the film, for the most part. Less talking, more fighting please. The format of the movie was intriguing in the beginning, but as the movie progressed, more implausible things started to happen with the plot development. Mallory’s ability to fight her way out of any situation was actually more plausible than the whole frame-up scenario.
I liked Haywire, but there are too many other choices in theaters right now for me to give it a strong recommendation. Wait for the DVD.