Despite making more than 30 movies over his career, Haywire represents the first time director Steven Soderbergh sets out to make a rather straightforward action film. Well… straightforward in terms of delivery, the film is saddled with one hell of a convoluted plot by screenwriter Lem Dobbs that will only attempt to fully explain itself in the movie’s closing moments.
At times you’ll notice Soderbergh’s hand with his stylized camera work and use of music, but the film also has several sequence where the style drops away and the director gives us several brutal action scenes.
We begin with Mallory Kane (Gina Carano), a black ops soldier who has been betrayed by her boss and former lover Kenneth (Ewan McGregor) and is now on the run. With limited resources she will hunt down each of the men who betrayed her and get her revenge.
The film’s strength is its pacing and fight sequences built around Carano, a former MMA fighter. Over the course of the film she’ll go toe-to-toe with McGregor, Channing Tatum, and Michael Fassbender. In the film’s more dialogue heavy sequences Carano struggles a little at times, especially in the early scenes with Angarano, but overall does a passable job in carrying her first film.
The script and structure of the film could use some work. The opening sequence and the scenes with Mallory picking up a young kid (Michael Angarano) at a diner and telling him her whole story are awkward at best without ever giving us a payoff for their inclusion in the film. And the over-complicated nature of the conspiracy to kill Mallory, and the subplot of a government agent (Michael Douglas) working both sides against each other for his own goals, grows taxing.
Much like The Girlfriend Experience, Haywire is structured around the director’s desire to work with a particular actress (a porn star in the first, a MMA fighter here) in more mainstream type of film, with mixed success. Haywire isn’t awful, and it certainly has its moments (including a very humorous closing shot), but it never really comes together in the way you expect from a Soderbergh film.
The special features include a 16-minute documentary on Gina Carino’s training for the film and how her experience in MMA helped in stunt and weapon sequences, a short documentary on the men of of the film featuring interviews with Fassbender, McGregor, Tatum, and Antonio Banderas. The-Blu-ray also includes a digital copy of the film.
[Lionsgate, Blu-ray $39.99 / DVD $29.95]