Haywire

Untinkered Woman Soldier Spy

         
 

19 January 2012| No Comments     by Sean Chavel

 

An exceptionally unpredictable thriller by Steven Soderbergh, the director of “Traffic” and “Contagion.” I always hear complaints that there aren’t any smart action-thrillers that stimulate the brain as much as it dazzles the eyes. But here you go, Haywire is one of them. The flawless cast includes Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Bill Paxton, Channing Tatum, Mattieu  Kassovitz, Antonio Banderas, Michael Douglas, and newcomer Gina Carano as the ass-kicking babe Mallory Kane. Chiefly, the gallery of characters comprise of agents, double-agents, corporate executives or government administrators. Following an elaborate deception, Kane goes rogue like a female Jason Bourne, with unassuming talents in jujitsu, boxing, car-racing and rooftop acrobatics.

The film opens at a roadside coffee shop in snowy upstate New York. Kane has obviously been through an ordeal, and just needs some quick replenishment. She is not expecting company, but agent Aaron (Tatum) has found her and joins her at the table. It becomes apparent that there is a grudge and hatred between them after some coffee is thrown. Not much explanation is given, but the story flashbacks to a week earlier where there was a rescue operation of a hostage in Barcelona. Kane goes for extra credit for body blow damage to the captor.

From there, “Haywire” is a restless action juggernaut that bounces around to various locations such as Dublin, New York, New Mexico, and south of the border Mexico. But most of the trouble begins with Kane’s follow-up assignment in Dublin which will somehow be tied to the incidents in Barcelona. Soderbergh and writer Lem Dobbs (“Dark City”) jack into the POV of various characters from these aforementioned regions. The double-speak is either an operation code or it’s a nod to conspiracy. It’s actually a reprieve to finally learn who is on Kane’s side. Fassbender, as a British agent, is an enigma because he’s either too good to be bad or too bad to be good. He’s suave yet rugged enough to qualify for double-0 status in a future Bond movie, for sure.

The self-sufficient Kane has plenty of hurdles to survive through just in Dublin alone, where she is surrounded by conspirators. Carano, the actress, was a former performer on “American Gladiators,” that obstacle/combat contest on television and is also known for her mixed martial arts fighting. She is so impressive that Angelina Jolie in “Salt” is a mere forgotten dust bunny after you’re through with “Haywire.” She goes head-to-head in a hotel room, in one particular fight scene, that is truly no holds barred. But what makes the scene breathless is her absolute zero hesitance.

The plotting is a convoluted pretzel, but the pretzel eventually knots itself into a tight coil. Soderbergh photographs everything himself (his credits alias is Peter Andrews), and once again, he delivers visual sophistication with diverse color palettes that accompany the range of locations. He uses stylized black & white and slow-motion in the same fetishistic but mind-blowing ways that Oliver Stone (“Natural Born Killers”) or Tom Tykwer (“Run Lola Run”) use it. This film is a blast for the higher consciousness.

Gina Carano once an “American Gladiator,” now a reliable actress

“Haywire” will become a small classic amongst cinephiles. Which is a feat, because there’s virtually no such thing as a classic title released in the dog month of January that hasn’t had a prior pre-qualifying Oscar run.

93 Minutes. Rated R.

SUSPENSE-THRILLER / THINKING MAN’S THRILLER / FRIDAY NIGHT EXCITEMENT

Film Cousins: “The Bourne Identity” (2002); “Salt” (2010); “Red” (2010); “Hanna” (2011).

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.

 

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