Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Movie Review: Haywire

Director:  Steven Soderbergh

Reviewed: 18 June 2012

jamesintexas rating--*** (4 Stars = Highest Rating)

Steven Soderbergh, the Academy Award winning director of Traffic, must live the life.  He has done a two-part unseen epic biopic of Che Guevera, a modern horror film with an A-list cast more than willing to die for him about the danger of not washing one's hands, and a trilogy of quasi-caper films which are really fun excuses for George Clooney mugging with Brad Pitt in casinos and fancy locales.  For whatever reason, Steven Soderbergh turned his attention this year to crafting a Jason Bourne-level action thriller and stripped it down to its most essential parts in Haywire, a propulsive, hollow, fun film which is instantly forgettable.  So, in a nod to Steven Soderbergh's deconstruction of this genre, I'll deconstruct my review into ten pieces.

10. I've forgotten the name of the lead actress, but as a former boxer, Gina Carano brings a physicality to the lead performance as Mallory Kane (which I forgot and had to look up), doing her own stunts, jumping and grappling with every male in the film even if her charisma is shaky or her line readings are flat.  Mallory Kane is The Bride from Kill-Bill with even less dialogue and no Hanzo swords.

9. The year of the Fassbender continues as the most exciting actor in film today dresses nicely, drinks Scotch nicely, and fights nicely.  Whenever Daniel Craig wishes to walk away from Bond, he'll do nicely.

8. Construction-wise, Soderbergh plays with the genre, whisking us to and from Barcelona, Majorca, upstate New York as well as a bulk of the scenes in Ireland, shuffling pieces together with a jazz-infused score.

7. Death by ocean tide is always fun.

6. Ewan McGregor is always fun to watch as is a bearded Antonio Banderas.

5. Michael Douglas, as an elder C.I.A. bigwig, is fun to see chewing the scenery, while Bill Paxton dials it down as Mallory's older, military expert father.

4. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy this isn't.  Stab, choke, kick-in-the-head, and head-butt is more like it.

3. A surprise low-level chase through the New York woods with border patrol, bad guys, snow, and animals is a highlight!  Long wordless sections are common.

2. Any movie that has the first and last line "Shit!" uttered by a character is bound to be interesting.

1. "The motive is always money," utters one character.

So, Steven Soderbergh clearly proves that he can put a thriller like this together, and the film moves at an intense clip.  Technically, his editing is propulsive towards the finish line, and the director's eye for colors (his palette at times consists of yellows and oranges, as well as icy blues) and locations (beaches and rooftops) are memorable.  When I say forgettable, I don't mean that as a pejorative; however, there's not much there there for me in this film, but it sure is fun to watch as a cinematic adventure and an exercise.  Does Steven Soderbergh have a genre checklist?  What's next for him?  Magic Mike, the Channing Tatum stripper-dance film.  No one can ever accuse Steven Soderbergh of not being willing to stretch his talents and abilities.

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