Movie Review: Haywire
With Contagion, Steven Soderbergh gave us the all-too-real, paranoia-laced epidemic drama. Well-acted, beautifully directed, and never anything but gripping, it was ultimately chilling, creating hypochondriacs in everyone sitting in the theatre.
It would seem with Haywire, Mr. Soderbergh has said thank you for enduring Contagion, and now as your reward, here is something truly enjoyable for all the senses.
And that is just what Haywire is: pure, movie-going fun. In what is lately becoming typical Soderbergh fashion, the action thriller is gorgeously shot, with light saturating every room, and a still camera trained on one actor for extended scenes. While the environments are pleasing to the eye, the ears are engaged by non-stop caper music, propelling each scene and occasionally being interrupted for comic effect when something goes awry, such as a character falling a couple stories off the side of a building.
There are beautiful people, too. Gina Carano, mixed martial artist, model, female bad-ass, and new favourite action star, is Mallory Kane and simply awesome. She is calm, strong, clever, and slightly theatrical as she works for and then is betrayed by a private contract company. In her first starring role on the big screen, she is given a great introduction, battling with an out-witted Channing Tatum.
Pleasing to the eyes, and with a dulcet voice, Carano shines as the determined heroine seeking vengeance. She is both awe-inspiring with her physical strength and skills as well as endearing in her quirkiness. There is something utterly fanciful about the way in which she evades the police, quickly turning about face with a tacit ‘oops,’ as if everything is going according to plan. Unlike many around her, she is not a caricature –neither the vulnerable female nor the clichéd ruthless action hero.
Soderbergh loves to watch the best actors act. Like his previous film, Haywire brings out a lengthy list of star, picks out an actor for one scene, and trains its focus solely on them. Michael Douglas, Ewan McGregor, and Antonio Banderas, as varying businessmen attempting to control the fate of Kane, are all clearly enjoying themselves as absurd characters.
One of the most talked about men in Hollywood this very moment, Michael Fassbender, shows up as well as a smarmy British agent, and has an opportunity to display his fighting skills. Also on board is Bill Paxton in all his concerned-father glory.
It is not just conversations that Soderbergh knows how to shoot, it is action as well, and it is similarly beautiful and charming. The fight and chase sequences are simultaneously and surprising violent and funny. Soderbergh drops the music during such scenes, leaving only the sounds of punches-landed, glass breaking, and much exasperation. He combines the absurdity of a Coen brothers movie (think Burn After Reading), with the action of a Doug Liman film (The Bourne Identity, et alia), with his own ingenious eye for the best shot and unparalleled pacing.
We watch Kane run through an alley, jump across rooftops, or drive a getaway car in a single shot that seem to go on for minutes, following her every breath and focused stare, never becoming tiresome. It is Soderbergh’s way of story-telling, one that knows impeccably timing.
Combining just the right amount of violence, drama, humour, self-reflection, and silliness, Haywire is a paragon of the action-thriller genre: sleek, entertaining, and coming in at 95 minutes. Trust in Soderbergh, and you will be rewarded.