With a cast including Ewan McGregor, Antonio Banderas, Channing Tatum, Michael Fassbender and Michael Douglas, alongside newcomer and MMA fighter Gina Carano – not to mention that it’s directed by Steven Soderbergh – you’d expect something pretty special from Haywire. Sadly though the film doesn’t live up to expectations, beyond a few very good fight scenes.
Carano plays Mallory Kane, a covert operative for hire who does the jobs governments and companies don’t want to admit any part of. After a mission to Barcelona she heads to Dublin for another job and soon realises something is amiss and that she’s suddenly a target herself. Knowing she’s been double-crossed, Mallory must use all her skills to stay one step ahead of those who are out to get her and work out exactly what’s going on.
It’s a plot we’ve seen 100 times before and sadly Haywire has absolutely nothing new to add. While some have compared Mallory to Jason Bourne, the comparison is weak, as there’s not much to her character and the only real similarities are being good at punching people and having to evade forces that are out to get her. With an incredibly hackneyed plot, it’s down to the style and action to make this a worthwhile trip, however while Soderbergh has shown himself an incredibly sophisticated filmmaker in the past, here the lighting and cinematography decisions (he is his own director of photography) often seem mismatched and odd. The fights are good, but these tend to be islands of intense, well choreographed violence in a sea of underwhelming plot. Indeed, it’s difficult not to wonder if so much time and thought was poured into these that the things that link them together suffer.
Even the long list of well known stars add up to little, with each of the men getting little screen time and often not having much to do when they are on screen. It gets to the point where the film mainly seems to be about stars lining up to get beaten up by an extremely ass-kicking woman. Even Ewan McGregor, who has potentially the most interesting character, is let down towards the end with a scene that tries to tie things up in an oddly forced way. The only one who really stands out is Channing Tatum, who makes a lot out of very little.
It’s difficult not to wonder whether the script for Haywire was originally a lot longer and in the editing process, the effort to make it lean and mean resulted in a film that’s rather run of the mill and disjointed. Without Soderbergh and the well-known male stars, there’s little to set this apart from the endless parade of straight-to-DVD action movies (many of which also star ex-fighters) that arrive each month. It’s a shame as there’s a vast amount of talent involved, but it all comes to very little. We may well see more of Carano though, as while she’s not a great actress yet, she’s proficient, driven and single-handedly gives Haywire most of the forward momentum it has.
The disc includes a trio of short but okay featurettes, which are worth a look but not that great.
Overall Verdict: Carano shows she’s a potential action star, but Haywire itself feels tired and disjointed, with the only the very well done fights to keep you going.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac