Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Haywire (2012)

Seen: At Fresh Pond Entertainment Cinemas in Cambridge.

All I ever want is a kickass action movie with a kickass lady at the center that doesn't get bogged down in stupid romance or sexism or boring parts. DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD THIS IS TO FIND. (Side note: give me recommendations, as usual.) Thankfully that inscrutable trickster Steven Soderbergh stepped up to the plate with Haywire. American Gladiator Gina Carano stars as Mallory, a tough-as-nails secret agent/assassin-type-thing who is betrayed by her own people and thrust into a deadly international chase. Told primarily in flashbacks as she narrates her tale to a half-terrified, half-turned-on dude (Michael Angarano) she's sort of carjacking, the story moves through several missions and countries, all with their own bloody fistfights, until the asshole who sold Mallory out is identified.

Packed with crazy action scenes, an impressive cast, and lots of intrigue, Haywire is basically the perfect thriller. The narrative is complex enough to keep me interested but never gets in the way of the wonderfully intense action. There are multiple chase scenes, lots of expertly choreographed hand-to-hand combat sequences, and some awesome sneak attacks. Nothing is over-directed, there's no shaky-cam or frenetic close-ups that only serve to confuse the audience and mask a lack of imagination. The story clips along at a good pace, allowing enough quiet moments for character exposition but never really losing its momentum.

Ok so sure this movie has Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Antonio Banderas, Michael Douglas, Bill Paxton, and now I finally know who Channing Tatum is, but I can't even pretend to give a shit about ANY of them when Gina Carano is on screen. Have you seen this woman? She is spectacular. My god. She's charismatic, stunning, chic, and just fucking radiates badassery. And she will just beat the shit out of EVERYTHING and there's NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT. I can't even. Ugh. Star in every action movie, please.

Admittedly the ending gets a little dragged-out, and there's a moment of super shitty CGI, but otherwise I had very few problems with Haywire. There is a trace of a romantic subplot but it barely even registers, and there's never any lost time with boring mushy stuff. It's just all kickass action. Bam.


Pair This Movie With: For another recent awesome, badass lady action hero, I was pretty taken with Hanna. Alternatively you can go the more grindhousey route with something like Foxy Brown, Cleopatra Jones, Faster, Pussycat!, or newer throwbacks like Planet Terror.


  1. Nice review Alex. This spy flick actually features some great fight scenes and stunt. It is edited right down to the bone and the production is about as slick as anything in recent years. Emotionally, however, it is on the cold side, mainly because of Carano’s stiff-delivery.

  2. Absolutely spot on Alex.

    Supremely underrated film.

  3. Yes! Excellent review. I'm so with you on everything. Gina Carano needs to be in everything now. Officially. End of story. As for recommendations...the only other flick I can think to offer you is Bound! The main chick does get sucked into a twisted romantic subplot...but it's with another woman, so that...somehow makes it more forgivable? But I'm just massively biased. And I think we've had this conversation before. Either way, great review!

  4. Pretty much agree with everything you stated. I hope Carano becomes the new face of female action stars in Hollywood. After reading your opening sentence I tried to think of an action film that avoided those tropes but could not think of one. Heck, even a lot of the B-movie female centered action flicks still fall prey to those conventions. The sad thing is I do not see that changing soon,especially since Haywire did not make that much money at the box office.

    Regardless, I like that Mallory was comfortable in her own skin the entire way through. She is never looking for male approval at any point. It was nice to see the men genuinely afraid of what she can do. Yes, there is a bit of romance in the film but I like that it was always on her terms. She was never the submissive at any point.

  5. Strangest thing...

    I've been going on about this film almost from the moment it cut to black (and how cool was that), and about Carano's performance specifically. To that last point, I've heard a lot of people disagree.

    I'm not sure what people wanted out of her that they didn't get. Not only did she totally slay in the physical scenes, but I thought her coiled nature in the scenes in between suited the role quite nicely. By the looks of it, you agree.

    Here's hoping we can see her in another feature sometime soon - the movie world needs more Carano.

  6. Dan: I was actually fine with Carano's acting, not the best but she was suited for the role I thought.

    Sam: Thanks! Yeah I don't know why everyone isn't always talking about this movie?

    M: Yes I had BOUND on my netflix queue after reading about it on your site, but thanks for the reminder- I just bumped it up!

    CS: I know, it's sad but there really aren't many movies that fit those qualifications. I do my best to seek them out but am often disappointed!

    Ryan: Yeah I didn't think of negatively about her performance either, then noticed more people online talking about it. I agree that her "coiled nature" was totally apt, and and she delivered so strongly in the physical scenes it balanced out any other scene anyway!

  7. Loved Carano---she has a real "movie star" quality---but not so crazy about the plot. Was that the worst double-cross attempt ever filmed? Be sure to bring her somewhere where she can find an important clue before that weak-assed assassination attempt, why don't you? Worth watching for Gina but I thought it could have been much more.

  8. Another great pairing: "with FASTER PUSSYCAT KILL KILL". Excellent choice for a great festival double-header.