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Haywire—movie review

by Leonard Maltin
January 20, 2012 1:00 AM
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Fassbender and Carano play the couple in Soderbergh's 'Haywire'.

In the old days a film like this would have been called a “programmer” and fulfilled its modest ambitions as the second feature on a double bill. Alas, we don’t have double features or programmers anymore; every movie carries weight, and expectations, with it. Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire has all the trappings of an “A” movie, including a big-name cast and impressive international locations, but it never rises above the level of a “B.”

The action yarn was built around mixed martial arts fighter Gina Carano, who looks great, handles dialogue well, and knows how to kick butt. The fight scenes are potent and well staged; it isn’t every day you see a beautiful leading lady being smashed into walls and pieces of furniture by one of her leading men. What makes this tolerable is that she gives as good as she gets.

There are some good chase scenes, too, in the streets of Barcelona and on the rooftops of Dublin.

But the movie as a whole never takes off, and those action scenes aren’t enough to sustain it. Lem Dobbs’ screenplay is a fairly standard-issue espionage tale in which everyone is double-crossing everyone else…but Carano isn’t about to become anyone’s victim.

I felt the air go out of the film at a specific point, when Carano and Michael Fassbender, who are posing as husband and wife, return from an eventful party and walk down a long corridor to their hotel room. The scene is played in silence, as we wait for what might happen once they get inside that room. But there is no electricity in the air, no buildup of tension. I couldn’t help thinking that Hitchcock would have had us on the edge of our seats at a moment like that. Soderbergh is not only a good director, but a savvy student of film; I wish he’d found an appropriate role model for that crucial scene.

Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Channing Tatum, Antonio Banderas, Bill Paxton, and Michael Douglas all turn in professional jobs, and Carano shows real promise as an action star-in-the-making. The film is slickly made, and will probably please undemanding audiences. But with all that talent on both sides of the camera, Haywire should have been better.

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  • Tara | January 22, 2013 3:01 PMReply

    This is a good action film. I can't believe how many TERRIBLE reviews I have read about it. You are all blinded by "glitz" and "glam" go watch some more spiderman. ;)
    If you want to read my review, check out my blog :)

  • Josh | September 10, 2012 11:19 PMReply

    If by "undemanding" you mean "haughty and pretentious," sure Leonard, I guess you're right. I had no preconceptions, no idea of the plot before watching the film. The fighting was incredible. Gina Curano was just about perfect. Felt much more real than any Bond or Borne movie. I loved the bruises on her face after the fight...the deer through the rear windshield...the cops that get blown away because they are (believably) dismissive of her warnings. If you didn't like this movie, I suggest you stick with Hitchcock and Agatha Christie.

  • Brent | July 19, 2012 12:53 AMReply

    One of the worst movies I have ever scene. I'm a big fan of all of the actors in this movie, but I just felt "uncomfortable" watching this movies. There were several scenes that were awkward and I felt lost. I expected a lot more

  • Omar | July 4, 2012 5:19 PMReply

    Why all the negativity? I thought the movie succeeded in being a minamilist action/on-the-run show that would entertain even though it doesn't have the high pace and glossy features of similar movies. I felt the sparseness of it all was actually refreshing. And seriously, caring for characters in an action flick isn't always neccessary. You're either rooting for them to kick ass, or not, and I was for Gina Curano until the end ^_^

  • Tina | May 18, 2012 10:44 PMReply

    This movie sucks!!!

  • Waxenwings | February 9, 2012 5:41 PMReply

    Thanks for Ivor Slater ... you saved me the words ... i cann't add anythng to what you've said.
    it was a lame boring silly movie ... waste of time and money ... i would nominate it as the worst movie of the year ... if not the decade ...

  • John | January 24, 2012 9:11 PMReply

    David, you are my man... Mallory is the only character i want to know...These scums betrayed her, attacked her (some from behind)..We haven't any need of knowing them better, what- some boring family scene with wife and kids? Spare me...They fully deserved her fury... And also we talk about miss Gina Carano, i will be happy to look at her for 1.30 hour just sitting there and drink her cofee! My big A for the daring mr Soderbergh.And AAA+ for Gina!

  • David | January 24, 2012 12:30 AMReply

    I beg to differ. This action/suspense thriller grabbed me from beginning to end. Gina's quiet understated demeanor spoke louder than words, like her Muay Thai fly kicks and elbow punches. It's made like a 'B' movie in its minimalist way, but that's not a bad thing. This is what a Jason Bourne movie would look like if Quentin Tarantino or Robert Rodriguez was given the director's chair.

  • Ivor Slater | January 22, 2012 6:39 PMReply

    This movie has no story, or characters you can relate to, dismal color, fuzzy camera work, unintelligible dialog. but aside from those shortcomings it's a rotten movie that wastes audience time and money. The names in it should be ashamed of their parts in it. The actress is attractive and a skilled fighter, but that does not make a movie.

  • CBee | January 31, 2012 1:47 AM

    Agree with you Ivor, 110%!! I felt I was robbed after watching this movie. After the first 10 minutes, I had a sinking feeling that it was going to be a bad movie. What really surprised me was that it ended up as one really, really rotten movie. There was no way that the big-name cast could save a poorly written screenplay and the dismal acting ability and non-classy (so sorry for this) looks of the lead actress. Hats-off though to her fighting skills.....

  • Dave | January 23, 2012 12:46 PM

    Totally agree with Ivor & Manny. I didn't care about any of the characters, because viewers never learn anything about them. It's just a slug-fest.

  • manny | January 23, 2012 12:01 AM

    I couldn't agree with u even sucked!
    Waste of my time and money

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