By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood January 6, 2012 at 7:28PM
I finally saw Steven Soderbergh's "Haywire" (January 20) at Relativity Media's Hollywood premiere at the DGA Thursday night. In his intro, Soderbergh said, "I happened upon Gina Carano beating a woman up in a cage." The way to make it even better? Have her beat the crap out of macho movie stars. "Did you meet Gina?" Soderbergh asked me at the after-party. "Don't say the wrong thing, she's very strong."
"Haywire" is entertaining kick-ass B-movie fun. Soderbergh shows off his action chops (the movie filmed in Dublin for about $25 million). And his high concept worked: we root for martial arts maestro Carano as she systematically beats to a pulp some of our fave male movie stars--Michael Fassbender and Channing Tatum (who stars in Soderbergh's stripper film "Magic Mike") prove to be real threats, while Antonio Banderas and Ewan McGregor are less fearsome. Wisely, veteran Michael Douglas (coming up in Soderbergh's HBO Liberace biopic) stays out of the action fray. If you like smart indie actioners like "Drive" or "Death Proof," you'll like this.
Meanwhile we're awaiting final word on who will distribute Scott Z. Burns and Soderbergh's psychological thriller to shoot during the window intended for scuttled "The Man from U.N.C.L.E.," [UPDATE:]
"The Bitter Pill," "The Side Effects, "which deals with people and their moods," Burns told The Playlist. "It’s about how we as a society can’t tolerate sadness and what that makes us vulnerable to." ThePlaylist now confirms that Blake Lively, Jude Law and Channing Tatum will star, and Annapurna Pictures will finance.
Check out the "Haywire" trailers below. Here's a sampling of early reviews from the movie's premiere at AFI Fest:
Tim Grierson, Screen International: "This uber-stylish treat may have low nutritional content, but the kinetic hand-to-hand combat fight scenes and Soderbergh's lethal skill are simply seductive."
Stephen Saito, The Moveable Fest: "Carano lives up to her nickname 'Conviction' in her first feature role, one clearly shaped to take advantage of her attitude in the octagon."
Justin Chang, Variety :
Steven Soderbergh's action-filmmaking chops get a swift, vigorous 92-minute workout in "Haywire." So, too, does Gina Carano, a coolly charismatic mixed-martial-arts star plucked from the relative obscurity of televised cage matches to play a skilled assassin on the run from powerful men who want her dead. Paring down narrative and character concerns in favor of a breathtaking application of pure thriller technique, Soderbergh's latest picture is a lean, efficient exercise tossed off with his customary sangfroid and wickedly dry sense of humor. A name-heavy supporting cast should spell reasonably muscular returns and killer ancillary biz.'
Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter:
Imagine an entire action film dedicated to the proposition that every fight possesses the intensity of the classic Sean Connery-Robert Shaw to-the-death scrap in From Russia With Love and you’ll know what Haywire is all about. With all the feel of a vacation from more high-minded and ambitious projects, Steven Soderbergh celebrates making his 25th feature film within 22 years with a kick-ass international action romp toplining mixed martial arts star Gina Carano as a covert operative who proceeds to whup a succession of macho leading men in addition to assorted anonymous foes; she’s Pepper to Angelina’s Salt. World-premiered as a surprise sneak preview at Hollywood’s AFI Fest, this Relativity release should enjoy a solid commercial career with action-seeking male and female audiences upon its Jan. 20 release.
Sophia Savage, TOH!
It’s fun—and novel—to watch Carano’s Mallory Kane—a woman scorned with thighs of steel—kick the shit out of her co-stars accompanied by a cheesy retro B-movie score. The movie should connect with moviegoers in Middle America. But cinephiles may be disappointed by the shallow script and Soderbergh’s bare-bones cinematography (which fails to make the most out of locations such as Barcelona, Dublin, New Mexico) and Carano’s lack of screen sizzle when she’s not in action.