Sunday, January 22, 2012

Haywire - Movie Review

I've been looking forward to this for a while.  There's been a lot of positive hype and I've been seeing previews for Haywire for months.  Haywire did not disappoint me.  Action has a new hero, and her name is Gina Carano.

It's hard for me to talk about this without spoiling the plot. As with all movies I like, I don't want to spoil anything when I think you should just go out and see it.

Haywire follows the story of Mallory, a freelance mercenary that does jobs for a private firm.  Again, I can't go into details, but she's ultimately betrayed after a job and then goes for payback.  It's actually a pretty standard premise.

What you're watching this for is Gina Carano.  As many of you know, Carano is a former MMA fighter and also had a brief stint on the recent American Gladiators show.  I'm not going to get into Carano's fight career as I know there are people out there that know more about it and have stronger opinions about her (I believe she was known for having issues with not being able to make weight for her fights).  I've always thought she was a hot chick that can kick ass.  That's pretty much what she is in Haywire.

If you're not familiar with Gina Carano's look, she basically looks like she could be Rachel Leigh Cook's older sister (despite being younger than her).  Normally in movies, they get an actor and make them learn to fight or at least try to make them look convincing.  A lot of the time this fails.  You wonder why they don't just get guys that actually know how to fight.  However, this also fails, sometimes hilariously, as the fighter cannot act at all.

I was actually coming into this expecting to kind of come down on Carano's performance.  While her performance isn't what you'd call great, I think she did a good job.  She played the role as very direct, which fit the character.  She doesn't mess around.  Steven Soderberg directed her well.  If she works at it, I think there's a real future here as a female action star.  I walked out of Haywire wanting to see more of the Mallory character and hoping they do a sequel.

The fight scenes are great!  It's so nice to see a movie full of fight scenes that are edited well and you can actually tell what's going on.  There's none of that sped up or quick cut bullshit here.  It's funny that last year's Hanna, another action film starring a woman, also had some of the more convincing action scenes that didn't feature lots of quick cuts.  It all felt very realistic, and brutal.  Don't get me wrong though.  This isn't all about the action.  It's actually a smarter action/thriller written by Lem Dobbs, whose written stuff like The Limey, The Score and Dark City.

I think the difference with women, is that the action is a harder sell, as so many of these actresses are painfully skinny or nonathletic, that you don't believe it.  It's why I didn't like Salt.  I just can't believe that the anorexic looking Angelia Jolie can fight any man and win, despite special training.  The guys that she's beating up in the movie had the same special training, didn't they?  I don't buy it.  Haywire makes Salt look like a kids film.  All I'm trying to say is that it's nice they cast someone that can actually pull off the action.  In Carano's case, it helps that she's pretty.  Plus, I have a weakness for women with A-line bob haircuts.

As this is a Steven Soderbergh film, it does kind of have an Ocean's Eleven feel to it with how it wraps up, and I was actually looking forward to the reveals that you normally get as the movie concludes.  The pacing is just right and I loved how this movie ended!  I walked out of this totally satisfied.

Also to be expected with Soderbergh films, he's assembled another great cast.  Soderbergh seems to have a knack for getting good actors across the board, even for the smaller roles.  I've heard this is because he's one of the nicest guys in Hollywood to work with.  Plus, he makes good films.  He is able to get guys like Michael Douglas and Antonio Banderas for smaller roles, managed to make Channing Tatum actually seem decent, and then gets guys like Michael Fassbender, and my nemesis, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) to round out the cast.

This is too good of a film to be released in January.  Maybe they thought with Carano being a relative unknown that they didn't know how it would perform.  Even after watching it and with all the great reviews, I'm fearful that this movie might get forgotten.  The theater was about 3/4 full, so hopefully that's a good sign.

Haywire lived up to the hype and was a great January surprise.  It's too early in the year to call this one of my favorite films of the year, but it's going to get some strong consideration and I wouldn't be surprised to see this up there in my lists.  I think it's a great, smart action/thriller and features some of the better fight scenes I've seen in a while.  I highly recommend watching this.

4 (out of 5) Death Stars


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