Tinker tailor Soderbergh spy – Haywire review

Haywire – Starring Gina Carano, Ewan McGregor, and Channing Tatum. Directed by Steven Soderbergh. Rated M. By Richard Haridy.

Haywire arrives on DVD and Blu-ray in Australia July 25, 2012.

Mixed martial artist Gina Carano stars in Steven Soderbergh‘s Haywire; an action film swathed in such a haze of cold detachment it’s positively glacial. From Solaris to The Limey to 2011’s Contagion, Soderbergh always deconstructs genre in subversive ways and Haywire is no exception.

Carano plays Mallory Kane, an independently contracted spy who jets around the world on various missions as ordered by her boss Kenneth (Ewan McGregor). After a job in Dublin doesn’t go exactly as planned, Mallory learns her boss is actually trying to ‘eliminate’ her from the books. Of course, Mallory Kane isn’t someone to be messed with, and her superiors discover she’s not as easy to get rid of as they had hoped.

While this sounds like a loud, fast picture, it’s actually something quite different. Soderbergh’s big aesthetic conceit with Haywire is to strip the action scenes of all artificiality. When we get to a big fight, the score disappears, only to be replaced by the sounds of ambient grunts. He also shoots his action long and wide which is admirable in today’s hyper, cut-cut-cut, world. In between the many fight scenes, Soderbergh saves his artifice for several snappy montages set to a lovely, jazzy score from David Holmes.

It may seem like this is merely an exercise in style and to be honest, it is. Soderbergh’s clearly fascinated by the physicality of Carano as a fighter and Haywire’s sole reason for existence is to highlight those skills. She certainly isn’t an actress and her robotic intonations will be a significant hurdle for many, but if you can frame her bad acting as almost an intentional ‘Terminator’ style of line reading then there is much to appreciate here.

Haywire features a sensational supporting cast featuring Michael Fassbender, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Bill Paxton, Channing Tatum and Matthieu Kassovitz. The photography is amazing; no one does crisp, wide-screen compositions quite like Soderbergh. Haywire may be too distant for many viewers, but if you can lock into its determinedly unique vibe you’ll have a lot of fun. It’s a sophisticated, elegant and damn cool play on the espionage genre with some of the punchiest fight scenes of recent memory.


Haywire arrives on DVD and Blu-ray in Australia July 25, 2012.

2 Responses to “Tinker tailor Soderbergh spy – Haywire review”

  1. With a cast as outstanding as this, I was excited to see this movie. The score was ridiculous and took away from the action and the storyline barely kept me involved enough to not reach for the remote to turn it off…I kept hoping for it to get better! I think it let Gina Carano and the other sensational actors down. It was weird and I don’t recommend it.

  2. Fair enough. It’s definitely operating on an atypical level. Even though I ended up really liking the film I have to admit that I considered hitting the fast forward button during the first half. It’s not gonna work for everyone.

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