Directed by Steven Sodenbergh
Written by Lem Dobbs
Genre: action-packed thriller
Mallory Kane: Gina Karano
Kenneth Jay, Mallory’s boss: Evan McGregor
Aaron Henry: Channing Tatum
Olivier Coblenz: Michael Douglas
Paul (MI6 agent) Michael Fassbender
A guy called Aaron walks into a roadside diner in upstate New York and smacks the living daylights out of a woman named Mallory Kane. Mallory is not one to be beaten around by anybody though – she turns the table and after a few spectacular kicks her opponent is left immobile on the floor and she is escaping with another guy who very chivalrously decided to intervene on her behalf. Now he is in for a treat – Mallory is telling him her story so far, while screeching and careening through the snow. Then the local police catch up with them, then the FBI guys who prove not to be the FBI at all and Mallory is given plenty of opportunities to shoot, kill, maim and punch guys around her. What she does with gusto.
Cut to Washington, D.C., where Kenneth, Mallory’s boss, is instructed by US senator Coblenz to eliminate the two-fisted Mallory. Flashback even further to Barcelona, where she and Aaron were once lovers on a hostage-rescue mission, before she discovered she was marked for assassination. In Dublin, while tracking down a Chinese nationalist, she poses as the wife of another secret agent, played by gym-pumped Michael Fassbender with typical out-of-the-shower, tight-towel nakedness. Instead of taking her to bed he tries to take her out. In retaliation, she chokes him with her well-muscled thighs (really next to her Michael looks… puny) and fires a bullet through his handsome head, so conveniently hidden under a pillow so the fans of Mr. Fassbender don’t mind so much.
My first unconnected thought was: what has Mr. Soderbergh paid or promised to so many current and former alpha males to persuade them to take part and make fools of themselves in this flop? They are wasting their time, but, boy, do we need them. My second more connected thought: you don’t have to be very brainy to realize early that nobody connected with Haywire had any interest in coherent narrative filmmaking. The movie is nothing more than a locker-room joke. Nothing resembling plot, character development or a star-making career move of any kind is anywhere apparent. I would call it a string of well-orchestrated martial art scenes, nothing more.
Lem Dobbs has streamlined the script into a more or less basic revenge tale—with elements of an international spy thriller—that’s written within Carano’s range and hits action beats with satisfying regularity. It’s his and Soderbergh’s idea of lizard-brain entertainment, and its pleasures are remarkably distilled. In truth, Haywire is simply a delivery system for ass-kickings, calibrated to the specific talents of Gina Carano, a former mixed-martial-arts star and American Gladiator whose fists (and feet) of fury can rattle skulls and cave in chests. I admit it was a pleasure to watch a woman who actually knows how to throw a punch instead of crappy fighters like Jolie – Carano is hot and able to kick most guys asses – but without any logic and character development you get bored with her character after a while. Could Carano carry a movie that required more nuanced acting than this one does? Hard to say. Perhaps with a better script and another director…
The whole point of this time-wasting movie seems to prove that women can punch, kick, slash, burn, maim and kill just like men—and make bad movies that are just as stupid. Mr. Soderbergh I liked Erin Brockovitch, so much but now I think it was a fluke, never to be repeated. Please prove me wrong!