Steven Soderbergh approached Haywire as a chance to turn Gina Carano into a movie star. As she’s been cast in the next Fast and Furious movie, it’s likely that we’ll see more from her. But Soderbergh approached doing an action movie as an art project, so he played with the structure and style of the modern action film. It’s ambitious, and not entirely successful. But he was right on the money that Carano can carry a movie. Haywire costars Michael Fassbender, Channing Tatum, Ewan McGreggor, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas and Bill Paxton, and our review of the Blu-ray follows after the jump.
The film beings with Malory Kane (Carano) going to a coffee shop where Aaron (Tatum) shows up to take her in. She’s not going to go quietly, and the film begins with a pretty brutal hand to hand fight. Kane wins and takes witness Scott (Michael Angarano) with her to have someone who knows why people are trying to kill her. She was on an assignment with Aaron where she’s supposed to rescue a hostage, but it doesn’t go as smoothly as expected. And then her ex-boyfriend/employer Kenneth (McGreggor) sends her to Ireland with Paul (Fassbender) on what’s supposed to be a simple job as Paul’s date. Of course it couldn’t be simple and Paul tries to kill her, so she’s on the lam from the police and other agents. Kenneth has been working with government officials Coblenz (Douglas) and Rodrigo (Banderas), and it’s hard to know why she’s been set up. But – even though they threaten Kane’s father (Paxton), she’s not someone to mess with.
What’s great about modern cinema is that we’re seeing roles played by women that used to be left to only men (except in Blaxploitation). Between this, Hanna, The Hunger Games, The Avengers and more we’re seeing women getting to kick ass and take names in ways that are refreshing. Carano is never treated as anything less than an incredible bad ass, and as an audition piece, the film succeeds. She can handle herself on screen, and if the script and plotting plays up her strengths as an amateur, she comes out smelling like a rose.
But Soderbergh’s approach (similar in some ways to The Limey) points out how shallow most of these movies are. But where you might be able to be distracted by the action and mechanics in low-rent actions films, here it’s hard to forget that there’s absolutely nothing going on under the surface. It’s just a simple “You messed with the wrong person” narrative, and the twisting of structure, and beautiful compositions emphasize the shallowness more than hide it. There are some great shots, and Soderbergh knows how to put sequences together, but the film is curiously inert.
Which makes it smart that it’s a 90 minute movie. But this sort of film – though Soderbergh shoots clean action sequences – isn’t really in his wheelhouse. That’s the fun of Soderbergh – he’s constantly trying different things, so he deserves credit for that. It’s interesting, but ultimately (like many of his films) an experiment.
Lionsgate presents the film on Blu-ray with a digital copy. The film is presented in widescreen (2.35:1) and in English 5.1 DTS-HD master audio. The transfer is excellent, and Soderbergh’s cinematography (done under his pseudonym Peter Andrews) is well represented as is David Holmes’s excellent score. There are two featurettes “Gina Carano in Training” (16 min.) and “the Men of Haywire” (5 min.). The former offers more comments from the star and excerpts from a talk Soderbergh gave on the film, while the later gets EPK style interviews with Fassbender, McGreggor, Tatum and Banderas. Not much here, all things.