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An action film directed by Steven Soderbergh

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Feminist Bourne.

  • May 31, 2012
*** out of ****

A young woman enters a diner. She is Mallory Kane (Gina Carano). She is followed soon thereafter by a man named Aaron (Channing Tatum). They talk for a little bit, although he seems upset, and just when the drinks that they ordered are about to be delivered to their table, Aaron strikes Mallory; and the two are involved in hand-to-hand combat. Mallory breaks Aaron's wrist but is wounded in her arm. A kind young man (Michael Angarano) gives Mallory the chance to escape and allows her to drive his car while he fixes up her wound. As she drives, Mallory pretty much reveals her life story; that she is a sort of untouchable spy, goes undercover often, and almost always has a job on her plate. One week before the opening sequence, Mallory had been employed by her boss and ex-boyfriend Kenneth (Ewan McGregor) to rescue a hostage in Barcelona. Along with her she took Aaron, and it is implied that the mission gave them enough time to form a somewhat strong bond. But work comes before love; and once the hostage is in their possession, they must deliver him to Rodrigo (Antonio Banderas) - a man with connections to the man who assembled the mission and gave it to Kenneth (this man is played by Michael Douglas) -.

The first mission is a success; so naturally, it's on to the next for Mallory. This time, she is sent to Dublin; where she will act as the wife of M16 agent Paul (Michael Fassbender), whose contact is the wealthy Struder (Mathieu Kassovitz). Paul and Mallory dress fancy and go to a party at Struder's mansion, where the business shall be carried out. Mallory was given a recognition symbol earlier on so that Paul could recognize her when they first met. That is why it is particularly distressing when Mallory finds another one attached to the dead body of the hostage that she had rescued from the first mission in the backroom of the house. She realizes that she has been set up, and later on fights Paul in their hotel room; ultimately winning the battle by suffocating him with a pillow and then burying a bullet in his head while still covering it with such fluffy goodness. After the struggle is over, Mallory indirectly contacts Kenneth over phone; with him making the call and her both picking it up and refusing to answer when questioned. From then on, it's a high-octane game of cat and mouse for a while until Mallory has all her rotten eggs in one basket.

The plot is fairly simple, for the most part. I'm not the biggest fan of espionage thrillers - I haven't even seen most of the classics beyond "North by Northwest" - but I found the plot well-structured and easy to follow throughout. The screenplay is imperfect in a great number of ways. For one, it treats every character including Mallory as a disposable entity for the sake of the material, but in this context I guess that's fine. Also, there's just not a whole lot that you take away from the move substance-wise. It's more of a stylistic effort, but it's still a very good one at that. You know what I mean. There are exciting chase scenes and stunning stunts galore. Most impressive of all, the film gets all this done without resorting to cheap CGI effects, doing just about everything it can more traditionally. I wish more action movies would take up this intellectual philosophy and understand that the easiest way to get the audience immersed and invested in the action occurring on-screen is to portray it in as realistic a way as humanely possible.

I'd never seen MMA fighter Gina Carano in a film before this one, although judging by "Haywire" alone, I'd say she has a promising career ahead of her as the next big action star. There's no denying that she's nothing special when it comes to the spoken dialogue and depth portions of her characters, but she's still a very beautiful and agile woman. Those are two essential features for the kind of character she is playing. Also -and this ties into Carano - perhaps my favorite aspect of the film was how much Mallory reminded me of a classic female exploitation starlet. From the clothes that she wears to her overall physical attributes, Carano makes the character seem almost fetishistic in nature; although perhaps that's what they were aiming for. She isn't the strongest female character type I've seen as of late, but I'll take whatever they give me as long as it's interesting. Sure, her co-stars kind of sit in the corner whenever she's in full-frame, but Carano commands the screen whenever the film demands it; and her action scenes are the core of the picture. She allows the film to be filled with invigorating energy and impeccable spirit.

"Haywire" was directed by Steven Soderbergh, who probably intended it as another one of his experimental features. To my knowledge, Soderbergh hasn't worked much in the field of action cinema so this was kind of a step in a new direction for the filmmaker. Not-so-surprisingly, he pulls it off and gives the people what they want; exciting set-pieces and engaging visuals. I'm a fan of Soderbergh's overall "style" - which here consists of distorted lighting and color schemes and fast paced editing - so I guess it all depends on whether you think he's a good experimental filmmaker or not. If you don't think his past "experiments" have been particularly successful, this probably won't change much for you. It is, in my opinion, a pretty good movie; but hardly a great one. Soderbergh has enough flare to set his vision ablaze with intoxicating power that overshadows the somewhat weak plot elements (one of which was the choice to switch out between Mallory's life story and her experiences in the car with the stranger). Whether that's enough for you to forgive it of its flaws, I dunno. All I know is that I liked it, I was fine with it, and I was entertained. And there's no questioning the film's authenticity when stood right up next to most action flicks of modern times.

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More Haywire (2012 film) reviews
review by . January 22, 2012
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Veteran director Steven Soderbergh may have given some people pause when they heard that he was making an action spy-thriller that seemed aimed to appease the mainstream viewer’s appetite for explosions, hard-hitting action and dumbed-down plotting. Well, it seems like the veteran filmmaker knew what he was doing when he teamed up with screen writer Lem Dobbs for their second collaboration after the hidden success of “The Limey”. “Haywire” stars MMA star Gina Carrano …
review by . January 28, 2012
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review by . January 19, 2012
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HAYWIRE Written by Lem Dobbs Directed by Steven Soderbergh Starring Gina Carano, Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender and Channing Tatum   Aaron: Is this your idea of relaxing? Wine and gun maintenance?   To a large extent, both on the surface and at its root, Steven Soderbergh’s latest caper, HAYWIRE, is nothing more than a filmic excuse to watch former “American Gladiator”, Gina Carano, beat the living crap out of a bunch of big, strapping men. On many levels, …
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review by . January 21, 2012
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Steven Sogerbergh has been talking about retiring from the film industry for some time now, that being said this is his 25th film in a little over 20 years. He has never done a movie involving so much fighting as he is usually known for his dark shots and dialogue heavy stories. He is still able to put his own spin on the genre and makes Haywire an enjoyable movie even if it leaves no long lasting impression.      Newcomer Gina Carano stars as a black ops agent seeking …
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Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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About this movie


  • Gina Carano as Mallory Kane in ``Haywire.''
  • Opened January 20, 2012 | Runtime:1 hr. 32 min.
  • R
    some violence
  • Information for parents: Common Sense Media says Iffy for 15+.
  • Mallory Kane (Gina Carano) is a highly trained operative for a government security contractor. Her missions take her to the world's most dangerous areas. After Mallory successfully frees a hostage journalist, she's betrayed and left for dead by someone in her own agency. Knowing her survival depends on learning the truth behind the double-cross, Mallory uses her black-ops training to set a trap. But when things go awry, Mallory knows she'll die unless she can turn the tables on her adversary.


  • Cast: Gina Carano, Michael Douglas, Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Bill Paxton, Channing Tatum, Michael Angarano, Antonio Banderas, Mathieu Kassovitz
  • Director: Steven Soderbergh
  • Genres: Action/Adventure
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    Genre: Action, Adventure, Thriller
    Release Date: Jan. 20, 2012

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