For a director who constantly claims that he’ll soon be bowing about of the despicable movie business, it’s been a mighty busy few years for Steven Soderbergh. Alongside the thriller-epidemic drama Contagion, and the greased up stripper drama Magic Mike was Haywire, released back at the start of 2012. I’m so close to finishing up this 366 movies in 366 days task, that I was quite excited about sitting down to this 89 minute action romp. It’s reckless, rambling and certainly pulls some punches, but the repetitive blows to the head didn’t stop me being bored throughout.
Gina Carano plays a black ops specialist and hitwoman. We meet her when she picks up a timid teenage boy (Michael Angarano) and takes him as a hostage. Driving across a frozen forest, she is all too willing to divulge how she’s end up being this woman on the run. When a mission in Dublin reveals her employer’s true motives, she goes rogue. With a slew of assassins on her tail, she’s seeking vengeance on all the men that have screwed her over, and she’ll go through rooftop chases and hotel bust-ups to get what she wants.
The attractive face of women’s mixed martial arts, Carano’s lack of acting credentials doesn’t impinge on the movie. That’s mainly due to her not getting much time to act, spending most of it running, hiding, or kicking ass. However, when she stops to a halt and is asked to bring a little bit more than brawn to the role, she falters, with the overdubbed dialogue and bemused, ‘who farted?’ facial expressions unintentionally recalling old Jackie Chan bust-em-ups like Rumble in the Bronx.
With his, at least, commercially successful Oceans Trilogy, Soderbergh is used to working with big ensemble players. Haywire is nothing different, with a machismo-heavy supporting cast worth gawking at, with Michael Fassbender, Antonio Banderas, Michael Douglas, Channing Tatum, Bill Paxton & Ewan McGregor all fighting for screen time. All but one of them will feel the pain of Carano’s wrath, but until then they are relied on to bring in some degree of prestige. So much potential, yet they are all virtually superfluous thrown into the one movie.
Unlike Gareth Evans’ surprise hit Indonesian movie The Raid: Redemption, which did away with any plot and just focused on the balletic martial arts action, Soderbergh tries to have his cake and eat it with Haywire, filled with some fantastically choreographed bust-ups, whilst trying to thread an intelligible narrative. The result is formulaic and anodyne, with stylised fight sequences so far removed from reality that it all felt clinical and robotic, made only worse by the fact that, despite all the face-pummeling, there’s not a single drop of blood in the movie.
Whilst it could be the launch pad for action woman Carano, Haywire is a disappointing revenge movie for everyone else involved. Shot by Soderbergh under his alias Peter Andrews, it has that standard rough and tumble, no movie light aesthetic which has permeated throughout his work since his career best, Traffic. Ugly, uninspiring and utterly forgettable.