Haywire

Haywire is a different kind of movie.  The film’s plot revolves around a Black Ops CIA operative named Mallory who gets framed by the government for a crime she didn’t commit.  Mallory has to figure out who in her organization framed her.  The plot of this movie is very thin.  I don’t mind that the story is thin because some superb fight scenes make up for a subpar story.

Haywire was directed by Steven Soderbergh and written by Lem Dobbs.  Haywire is the second time Soderbergh has used someone who is not an actress as the lead character in a film.  The first time Steven Soderbergh experimented with this concept was in the 2009 film The Girlfriend Experience starring former porn star Sasha Grey.  Haywire’s lead actress comes in the form of MMA Fighter Gina Carano.  Carano has no acting skills and it shows in Haywire.  Carano substitutes fighting skills for acting talent as she disposes of one trained enemy after another.  The fights in the film not only keep the plot moving but also allow the movie to have a heavy dose of quiet intensity during the moments just before and just after a fight scene.   The realism of the fight scenes comes across thanks to not only some brilliant and believable choreography, but also the skillfully still camerawork done by Steven Soderbergh.

Steven Soderbergh used bright and dark color tone changes to evoke the emotions of Mallory in this film.  Color tones and emotions didn’t work well in Soderbergh’s previous feature Contagion but they work superbly here.  Haywire works best when lead character Mallory says absolutely nothing.  This lack of dialogue works in the favor of the audience because they don’t know where Mallory is or in some cases what she’s doing and are forced to watch the chaos of the film ensue.  The sets and locations are lit well so you can always see what’s going on in a scene as the camera moves.  For a film so thin on plot, being able to look at the environments and even character’s facial expression is an important tool in keeping the audience invested in the film.

Some A-list actors do their best to fill supporting roles for weak story.  Michael”Greed is Good” Douglas, Antonio “Zorro” Banderas, Channing “Step Up” Tatum and Michael “No Shame” Fassbender all do their best to give Carano the support she needs to make the story believable.

My main problem with Haywire is that I wanted a deeper story than the film gave me.  As an audience member I expect characters to have layers or dimensions.  There was only one emotion constantly expressed by Carano’s Mallory and that was anger.  I wanted to see Mallory be vulnerable when bad things happened while she was attempting to clear her name.  I wanted to see frustration as she had to fight off multiple assailants.  I wanted a true heart to heart moment when Mallory met up with her father but what I ended up getting instead was the equivalent of the father saying “go get your revenge.”  Screenwriting 101 is the idea that whatever your story is you must give your character a journey and Mallory didn’t have a decent one.

Haywire has its share of problems but the fight sequences and the film’s quiet intensity make the film worth the price of admission.

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