FlixChatter Review: Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Haywire’

The one thing I found appealing right away is of course the cast: Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Bill Paxton… and the femme fatale, a real mixed-martial arts fighter Gina Carano. Steven Soderbergh confessed to the Hall H panel at Comic-con that he ‘discovered’ Carano fighting in a cage whilst watching TV on a Saturday night. According to this NY Post article, after he’d been fired from directing the Brad Pitt starrer Moneyball, he said he decided to make ‘an action flick that looked beautiful.’ Upon seeing Carano, he ended up building an entire script based on her.

Soderbergh with his muse

So was this a good move on Soderbergh part?

After seeing this, my answer is a resounding YES. I like the director’s style in filming this, consistently keeping Mallory Kane, the black ops super soldier [ex-Marine, natch!] as the main focus from start to finish. Right away we find out she’s betrayed by the people who hired her on a mission in Barcelona and the rest of the film follows her hot on the trail to exact her vengeance. Yes, it’s a simple story, this is no twisty espionage thriller so there’s no convoluted plot to deal with. Soderbergh simply creates a vehicle for Carano to be her bad-ass self and it works!

I’ve heard people comparing this to Angelina Jolie’s SALT. Now I haven’t seen that movie and there probably is some similarities, but if these two were to be in a fight together, no doubt Carano would take Jolie’s bony frame down in a matter of seconds. Y’know she made me think that she could practically take down the rest of the Expendables cast, ahah.

Don’t I look like James Bond? Complete with my kick-ass Bond girl!

The action sequences are the reason to watch this film. It’s done without the overblown fast cuts, or slo-mo or nauseating hand-held style employed by many action directors [just as Ted has pointed out here]. Those are done supposedly to make the sequences look cool but it’s hard to see just what the heck is going on. No, Soderbergh filmed the fight scenes realistically, you could see every punch/blow/kick the characters endure. The most intense one is in the clip shown at Comic-con, involving the Bond-like Michael Fassbender [as an MI-6 agent no less!]. So going in I already knew his fate, ahah. But still that is one kick-ass fight scene, woof!

This is not an *acting* film for everyone involved, especially for Carano who never acted before. That said, Carano acquits herself well as Soderbergh is smart enough not to give her long monologues or complicated emotion to convey. Now of course I wish there’s more character development in play, I wish there was a bit more background on Mallory, but y’know what, there’s a certain appeal to its minimalism. In fact, my hubby said it reminds me of Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le Samouraï in its stark simplicity and pacing. We didn’t really know much about Alain Delon’s Jef Costello either, but it’s still interesting to watch him in his journey.

Run Mallory Run!

The star-studded male cast don’t exactly show their range but they’re still fun to watch. They all seem well aware when they signed on that they won’t be given much to do than being the next target of Carano’s vendetta. In the case of Bill Paxton as her author dad, his character is given a bit more emotional weight, but not by much. The ending does seem abrupt but also brilliant at the same time. It ends with an expletive uttered by a character who realizes that his blissful island life with his model girlfriend is about to go um, haywire.

I feel like giving Soderbergh’s other works a watch now. I haven’t seen too many of them, but Out of Sight and Traffic are some of his best films I’ve seen so far. I appreciate his unorthodox style and his effort in experimenting with different genres.

Final Thoughts: Gina Carano certainly makes for a convincing action star whilst still retains her feminine aura. This dynamic action thriller will please any action fans with its high adrenaline-stunts and gritty fight sequences. If you’re a fan of Soderbergh’s other works, this one is definitely worth a watch.

4 out of 5 reels

Have you seen this movie? Well, what do you think?

53 thoughts on “FlixChatter Review: Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Haywire’

  1. Ted S.

    I hope this movie is nothing like Salt because I hated that movie and yes I know Gena can easily whoop Angelina’s bony behind. In fact, I think had Gena starred in Salt I might’ve actually enjoyed it.

    Ever since he won the Oscars, Sodenberg’s career has been very interesting. It seems he just decided to experiment with different types of films. Check out King of the Hill and The Limey, those are two great films he made before he became a famous director. Also I enjoyed his O’cean’s films quite a bit, those are a lot of fun and all the big named stars looked like they had fun making the films.

    1. Well good thing I skipped SALT then, ahah. I’m just tired seeing Jolie being so bad ass and cold, been there done that. Plus she’s just much skinnier now than her Lara Croft days. Speaking of Croft, I think Carano would make a more compelling action heroine if they’re rebooting that franchise.

      Oh I have to see The Limey, thanks for the suggestion. I mean, it’s got Terrence Stamp! 🙂

  2. I found the movie to be a interesting but flawed experiment. The action scenes were cool and Soderberg was definitely going for a different feel/tone than the usual action fare(hence the interesting part), but the movie didn’t totally click with mere. There were times it started to lose my interest.

    1. Sounds like this film is more polarizing than I thought. I guess I wasn’t expecting it to be a *deep* film and you’re right, the character is not that well-written to be compelling, but for what it’s worth I enjoyed the heck out of it.

  3. As you know I’m a big action movie fan, but I really didn’t like this as much as you did. Sure there were some good action scenes, but I didn’t care much for Carano’s character. For an action movie it just didn’t feel exciting or thrilling. Ended up giving it a 5.

      1. The only thing that thrilled me was the fight in the bedroom and the little bit where she kick the guy she’s been chasing. The rest somehow didn’t work for me. You know I’m a big action fan, but it didn’t work for me.

        btw…I read yesterday that her voice was dubbed by someone else. I hadn’t noticed that, but found it very interesting.

        1. Yeah I realized that afterwards, her voice does sound higher and more feminine when I saw her at Comic-con, but the dubbed voice seem to match her physique better, ahah.

      1. I found myself agreeing with the critics also but I was the “real” filmgoers like our good selves that didn’t seem to enjoy. I think people were expecting something different. That’s the very reason I respected it. It’s not often you get a natural female action lead.

        1. Exactly Mark! It’s interesting how expectations totally affect how one feels about a movie. I certainly wasn’t expecting more than a straight action flick. I mean people don’t seem to have an issue w/ Bourne and he’s almost as expressionless as Mallory. Granted Damon is a much more experienced actor, so we can’t expect Carano to be on that level.

          1. What Carano lacked it the acting dept, she more than made up for in ass-kicking. I also didn’t think she was as bad as everyone made out. Granted, there were moments were she was found lacking but the supporting cast more than competently handled their roles. I think Bourne has set a bit of a benchmark in terms of this type of film and the recent Bond movies have also but this film can stand proudly as another of Soderbergh’s forays into changing genres.

  4. Great to see a four reel review! So many have been 3 stars and with that cast and this much action, it sounds awesome to me! Glad to hear “It’s done without the overblown fast cuts, or slo-mo or nauseating hand-held style employed by many action directors” too. Really looking forward to seeing this!

  5. Wow. You really liked this one, huh? I’m glad that you could. Of course, you know I did not. It’s sad that on top of the things that bothered me, Antonio Banderas is rather forgettable in the movie as well.

    But, Carano def shows some promise, IMO for the future! as evidenced by the poll I launched on Time to Vote Tuesday! 🙂

  6. to be honest I cannot see any comparison to SALT. I hated that film and I found it hard to believe that Jolie could hurt a fly, let alone a trained soldier. Carano is the real deal. I loved this film. It is a good one!

    I am chuffed you like it as well matey

    1. Ted S.

      I’m going to rent Haywire and I hope it’s nothing like Salt, I also hated that movie and didn’t buy for a second that Jolie can take on a bunch of 6 ft tall men who weights three times her size.

    2. All right matey, so we both like John Carter and this one. That’s why I like you 😀

      Ted, I’m curious to know what you think of this one. But one thing for sure, you WILL believe Carano CAN take down a man twice her size.

  7. Great review, Ruth!!
    I have watched this last month because of the cast. You seemed to like it far more than I am. I didn’t even feel like writing a review about this

  8. I reviewed this one when it came out in the theaters and was surprised at just how much I responded to it. Very well mader picture from Soderberg.

  9. Fantastic review! I’m glad you enjoyed the film, I liked it a lot too – Soderbergh really suceeded in making the film beautiful, with a big aid from Holmes and his fantastic score. Carano would take down Jolie for sure!

    1. Oh yeah, the score is perfect for all the action. I like the fact that Soderbergh stops the music during some of the fight sequences. Ahah yeah, I mean if she could take down Channing Tatum, I’m sure Jolie would be a piece of cake!

  10. I was a little disappointed by this. Gina Carano is a great action star and the fight scenes are terrific but I was left a little cold by the script and Carano’s limited dramatic range.

    1. I don’t think Soderbergh intended this to be a *dramatic* film and that Carano being in her first film just isn’t going to deliver dramatic range. As a straight-on action film though, I think it delivered.

  11. jackdeth72

    Hi, Ruth and company:

    Interesting review.

    Not much of a Soderbergh fan to start with. I still think he hit his peak with ‘Sex, Lies and Videotape’. Every thing beyond has been mediocre at best.

    Is it just me, or does ‘Haywire’ look and feel a little or a lot like ‘Point of No Return’ from several years ago?

    Securing my Soap Box.
    Patiently waiting to be flamed.
    Carry on.

    1. Hi Jack, hope it’s *interesting* in a good way 🙂 I saw Point of No Return and no I think it’s completely different. The only similarities is that she’s a femme fatale, but again if she were to fight with Bridget Fonda, Carano will finish her off faster than she did w/ Jolie. Or she may be able to take BOTH of ’em down at the same time 😀

      1. jackdeth72

        Hi, Ruth:

        All of your reviews are interesting in a good way. 🙂

        My masked point and question were in regard to the plethora of supposed ‘Hot Chicks that Kick Ass’ flicks that have sprung up over the years and have almost become a genre.

        Never bought into the premise with Jolie and her Lara Croft flicks. Or Bridget Fonda’s lame take on her role in ‘La Femme Nikita’, which never should have been messed with.

        Carano strikes me as a younger Michelle Rodriguez. With some meat on her bones, musculature and a decent, relatively low center of gravity. That works well with upper body strength to win fights.

        1. Ooo, thank you Jack 😀

          I used to like the Lara Croft flicks, especially the 2nd movie for obvious reasons [read: Gerry Butler]. I think if Carano had been in The Point of No Return it might be more believable. Fonda is even skinnier than Jolie!

          Yes, you’re right Carano does resemble Rodriguez in physicality. Rodriguez seems to be much angrier for some reason though.

  12. Ahh.. one person who enjoyed this film! I remember kind of enjoying it a little bit but overall, I thought there was just too much style. Was so looking forward to this film just based on the male cast – so many big names! But, it felt a bit too painfully slow. The plot wasn’t anything new. Carano did hold her own well enough, but just didn’t grab me.

    1. Hey, I’m not the only one! Just ask Mark, Scott, Sati, etc 😀 Funny that you said this is painfully slow, you must like things at lightning speed, ahah.

  13. Great review, Ruth, glad you enjoyed this one. I thought Carano was surprisingly VERY impressive, and I would love to see her continue an action movie career. This was certainly a strong debut.

    1. Glad you agree Eric. I didn’t realize not many bloggers like this film. Yes I thought she did ok, I mean not bad at all for her debut role. As for the dramatic range complaints, she’s far more expressive than Statham was in The Transporter, yet people don’t seem to have a problem with that.

  14. Seems that everywhere I turn on WordPress there’s a new Haywire review that I of course have to comment on! Steven Soderbergh knows how to get me to see his films as evidenced by the cast of Michael Fassbender and Ewan McGregor. I LOVED Gina Carano (that’s a girl crush right there) and loved how they didn’t make her like a typical female action hero, motivated by revenge or out of maternal instincts. And those fight scenes were epic, I mean the one between her and Fassbender is just brutal, you feel every punch. I need to pull out my DVD again

    1. Yeah, that fight scene with Fassbender is definitely brutal. I feel for him more than her actually, and they didn’t use a stunt double filming it. Soderbergh said at Comic-con that the vase she used to hit him with actually DID hit Fassbender’s gorgeous face! Good thing it didn’t do permanent damage!

  15. I still haven’t gotten around to seeing it, but I have to, soon! I always love a good kick ass movie, especially when the lead is a woman! Great post Ruth!

  16. lrstreet

    I absolutely loved Haywire! I was pretty excited going in but was shocked at home much more Ocean’s 11 it was in style than just an action film like the trailers made me believe. I agree with you about it not being “an acting film” and how it totally works still. The movie is a lot of fun and I can’t wait to watch it again.

    1. I don’t think it’ll be in my top 10 but I guess I enjoyed it enough to give it a high mark. Glad you’re in my camp Andy.

  17. Castor

    Wow, I would have sworn I left a comment here… At any rate, I wasn’t too impressed with the movie. Some of the fight scenes were fun to watch but others looked ridiculously fake (like WWE fake). The story itself was really weak IMO and the characters were barely sketched out at all, including Carano’s main character.Add that Soderbergh’s style was somewhat grating at times.

    1. Seems like the bloggers are split when it comes to this film Castor, it’s like every other comment here is a negative one. I don’t know what you mean about Soderbergh style being ‘grating,’ but I haven’t seen enough of his work to know otherwise.

      WP blogs did last Thursday? Good thing it didn’t happen whilst I was blogging. Thanks for returning and commenting, Castor 😀

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