The film has no fat on its bones and moves along at a consistent enough pace to keep the viewer interested.
Haywire is the new icy cold globe-trotting film from veteran director Steven Soderbergh. It’s a lean and mean thriller that starts in Upstate New York and works its way all over the world. From Barcelona to Dublin to the desert of New Mexico and back to New York again, Haywire is everywhere. I personally saw Haywire as a great throwback to spy and espionage thrillers of the 70’s. Everything from the music, to the cinematography and editing seemed to be celebrating that generation of secret agents.
Former real life MMA fighter Gina Carano takes lead in the film as Mallory, a freelance black ops operative who seeks revenge against her employers who betray her after a rescue mission in Barcelona. She is beautiful, mysterious and most of all, deadly.
The film begins with Mallory sitting in a booth at a small café in Upstate New York. She sits. She waits. Suddenly a man walks in and sits down at her table. The man is played by Channing Tatum. He asks her to turn herself in. Make it easier on herself. She declines and the within seconds Mallory is fighting for her life.
Mallory escape the café brawl with a young man in tow. They take his car and flee the scene. While this happens the movie cuts to the Barcelona job where we Mallory leading a team of operatives to the aid of a hostage. This team includes Tatum’s character with whom Mallory hooks up with after the mission is complete. This makes the opening scene all the more interesting.
Once the Barcelona job is done, Mallory returns to the States only to be recruited on another European mission by her employer played by Ewan McGregor. He is a snaky and sly person who seems to never be telling the truth with anyone. Mallory is sent to Dublin to meet up with another secret agent. He is name is Paul and is played by Michael Fassbender. Fassbender is having one hell of a career at the moment. He seems to be everywhere.
In Dublin, Mallory and Paul are in Dublin pretending to be a married couple. We soon find out that Mallory was sent there to be killed by Paul. This leads to an extremely brutal fight in a hotel room between the two. I can’t remember the last time I saw a fight on film that was so barbaric. The first that comes to mind is the climactic fight in William Friedkin’s The Hunted. They beat each other to a pulp.
At this point Mallory discovers she has been set up and sets out to exact revenge on those who betrayed her. After Dublin, she is back in the U.S. And now in terms of the plot we are back at the beginning of the film in New York.
Haywire if anything is a very efficient thriller. Like I said earlier, it’s extremely lean. The movie doesn’t concern itself with anything other than its main objective, Mallory’s quest for revenge. The movie is edited in a very slick manner. Cutting back and forth between previous missions and present time, the movie is constantly alive.
Soderbergh uses different colors and hues to distinguish which setting we are in. This makes it easy for the audience to figure out where in the timeline we are. Barcelona uses a warm palate, Dublin more of an icy blue.
The cinematography (by Soderbergh himself) is very well done. The brighter scenes have really nice warmth to them, reflecting the sunny locations of Barcelona and other parts Spain. When the blues are present they crisp and cold, hinting at the loneliness of the life of a secret agent.
The big talking point about Haywire seems to be Carano and her acting. When the film began I’ll be honest I wasn’t that impressed. But as the movie wore on, I honestly couldn’t picture anyone else in the role. Carano is a good choice because she isn’t known as an actress. She doesn’t know how to be a flashy movie star. She’s known for kicking butt, something she does very well in this film. Soderbergh doesn’t give her a lot of dialogue to begin with, but when she has some she delivers it just fine.
Another person I want to bring up is Channing Tatum. A few years ago I could not stand him as an actor. He seemed so awkward on camera, almost as if he didn’t belong there. But recently his choices of films have been great for his career. He’s having a great 2012 at the moment. He was first in Haywire. Then The Vow, which even I thought was pretty decent. Then he did 21 Jump Street, which was a critical success. Next he’s in a film called Magic Mike by none other than Soderbergh.
Haywire is smart, brutal and at times very fun. It’s a very confident spy film that doesn’t insult its audience. It plays to its strengths and has almost no weaknesses. The film has no fat on its bones and moves along at a consistent enough pace to keep the viewer interested and like most great espionage films has a lot of style.