Sunday 15 January 2012

Haywire review

Haywire (15/R, 92 mins)
Director: Steven Soderbergh
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

In a diner in New York state, two people, a man and a woman, chat in a booth. Suddenly it explodes into violence, as the pair grapple for life and death before the woman escapes the restaurant and gets away in a jacked car.

A series of flashbacks fill us in on the covert missions in Barcelona and Dublin that led to the current situation. The woman is Mallory Kane (Gina Carano), a black ops agent, and the man is Aaron (Channing Tatum), who was part of her Barcelona team.

When the spooks higher up the food chain (Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas) get together in a room to discuss them, they're speaking absolute jibber-jabber as far as the audience is concerned. The details of the plot are labyrinthine and barely register, but it matters not a jot because this is director Steven Soderbergh cutting loose and having oodles of kick-ass fun.

Just know it involves the usual betrayal and double cross antics, which leaves Mallory on the run and on a mission to bring down those who set her up.

There are two things that raise Haywire a level above your usual action guff. The first is Carano, a former mixed martial arts fighter. Okay, she’s far from the greatest actress in the world, but her physical performance is hugely impressive. Despite the other big names, she’s unquestionably the star, and watching her lay savage beatings on Tatum, McGregor, Michael Fassbender and countless nameless goons is supremely satisfying.

Secondly, the direction from Soderbergh is just so sharp, so smart, so unlike anything you’re likely to see in a standard action film, that every scene becomes a joy. He brings the cool swagger of Ocean’s Eleven, coupled with his indie aesthetic to bone crunching fights that are brutal and unglamorous yet executed with endlessly dynamic choreography.

As icing on the cake, Douglas is hilarious, Banderas unusually slobby, McGregor a twit, and they're all enjoying themselves immensely, which the viewing audience can’t help but pick up on.

It’s not a million miles away from something Tarantino might rattle out - a marquee cast all taking on smaller roles, probably just for the chance to work with the director, fitting effortlessly into action that’s done in sufficiently different ways that you look on the whole genre afresh.


  1. Are you mental this is worst movie ever
    Starts slowly and gets progressively worse.The fight screens are an insult to the audience and wouldn't look out of place in the play ground Ewan Mcgregor must have been badly hit by the recession and be in bad need of a pay day if he is making crap like this . I am beginning to think reviewers are on the payroll of the studios if they giving rubbish like this 4 stars.i want my €19 back

  2. Thanks for your comment, Anonymous. It's unfortunate you didn't like Haywire, but perhaps you should allow for the fact that other opinions are available. One of my best friends didn't much care for it either, but she didn't feel the need to accuse me of being a studio shill after seeing it based on my recommendation.

    As for your suggestion that I might be on the payroll of the distributors of Haywire, allow me to direct you here, here and here.

  3. I felt the movie was overly hyped by the previews when in fact it was more of an experimental piece. It felt like an attempt to tell a story with a minimum of dialog. Gina Carano pulls off the role of badass operator effortlessly, but she is not yet strong enough of an actress to hold the leading role, even with several A-list actors behind her. Overall, I feel my expectations were mismatched, I went in expecting an action packed thriller. I came out feeling underwhelmed. A few badass fight scenes wrapped around a weak plot and not enough dialogue.

  4. Paul, I find that comments from the other "anonymous" above are all but too commonplace. I rent a lot of movies through Red Box and if I had taken the reviews of "Drive" seriously, I never would have seen it and I absolutely loved it. There are a ton of half star reviews for that movie. I just don't get it. It seems like everyone is desensitized and/or has ADD. I've liked most of Soderbergh's other movies and based on your review, I'm going to check out Haywire today. Thanks!

  5. Excellent, spot-on review that captures why this movie is so good.