|...but if you love cornrows, you'll have to wait until the end|
If you're the sort of person who cares about little things like plot and acting, here's the rest of my thoughts.
Meet Mallory (Gina Carano). Mallory is a a spec ops contractor who takes dirty jobs for the American government. She's not an assassin, because that would make her unsympathetic; she is the person you put on a high difficulty job to save lives and kick asses.
|Kicking ass in 3...2...1...|
Haywire's lead actress, Gina Carano, is not a professional actress. She's an MMA fighter. In other words, she performs her own (awesome) stunts, but she hasn't exactly been to acting school. That doesn't necessarily mean she's a bad actress, but...well, calling her mediocre would be generous. This is the sort of film where the heroine's dialogue is terse and tough. Carano's delivery is tough, but tough like wood, instead of tough like MMA. How important is that to the overall quality of this film? I'll get back to that later. The rest of the cast is solid all around, with a few impressive performances. I can't believe I'm writing this, but Channing Tatum was pretty good in Haywire. He delivered is lines in a pretty natural way, had some solid conversational humor, and a really good fight scene. When I see Tatum in a film, I assume he's going to be the dumb twin of the Matt Damon puppet in Team America: World Police, but I was shocked at how much I didn't hate him here.
|"Maaatt Day...Day...***sigh*** LINE?"|
|Not as sexy as it looks, trust me|
|"The password is 'Nasonex'"|
The supporting acting was pretty good, I think that's pretty obvious. How about the direction? Steven Soderbergh was the man in charge of Haywire, and he brought with him some definite stylistic choices. Are you tired of Paul Greengrass-type action movies, where the camera is a little shaky and the fight scenes have a lot of close-ups cuts? Soderbergh apparently was. Haywire is filmed primarily in long shots with minimal editing. That means you definitely can tell that the actors do most of their own stunts (and Carano almost all of them), and that is extremely impressive. Soderbergh also takes pains to not over-explain the plot; this isn't as dense as Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, but the lack of exposition can make it a bit hard to follow at times. I liked that Haywire was told in an intelligent fashion that respected the audience. Unfortunately, Soderbergh's style for the film led to a lot of the non-action scenes to drag. It's one thing to watch a cool fight sequence that was clearly made without edits, it's less enthralling to see Mallory walk into a store and buy a cell phone from a distance.
Soderbergh's stylistic choices could have worked. It's a ballsy play, making a movie that treats espionage in a moderately realistic and unexaggerated way; there is a fine line between suspenseful intrigue and monotonous staring. Casting Gina Carano was another interesting choice. Unfortunately, the film's style and the actor's talent didn't quite mesh. Don't get me wrong --- Carano was absolutely the correct person for the fight scenes. My problem is that Haywire has far too many non-fight scenes to make up for Carano's awful delivery. To put it in plain terms, she was clearly out-acted by Channing "I'm a freaking coin" Tatum. That's a sick burn. Maintaining the longer scenes with fewer obvious editing cuts made the film feel fairly realistic, but this also emphasized Carano's lack of charisma. I also felt bored by the excessive chase scenes in this movie. Again, Soderbergh's choice to film scenes from farther away took away some of the immediacy and scenes that should have felt tense or quick were puzzlingly dull (the car chase scene in the snow, for instance).
Without the two early fight scenes, I would probably rip into Haywire with pleasure. However, those scenes are totally awesome. She even punches a guy in the dick with his own gun!
|Yeah, that was my reaction, too|