By Tressa Eckermann, Senior Staff Writer
When you think of Steven Soderbergh, you don’t usually think of break-neck action and intense fight scenes. But that’s what you get with his new film, “Haywire.”
“Haywire” is an interesting film. Not really good, but not bad either. I think the biggest issue here is that it doesn’t know what it wants to be. Does it want to be a straight up action vehicle for its star Gina Carano? Or does it want to be a political espionage thriller with killer action sequences?
Carano plays Mallory Kane, an ex-Marine who now works for her cash-strapped ex-boyfriend, Kenneth (Ewan McGregor), as an independent contractor who often works with government agencies. The majority of the story is told in flashback as Mallory flees from a diner with a young hostage, Scott (Michael Angarano). She was sent to Barcelona by Kenneth and two men Coblenz (Michael Douglas) and Rodrigo (Antonio Banderas) to rescue a journalist who’s been kidnapped and working with fellow agent, Aaron (a surprisingly good Channing Tatum).
Predictably, things go wrong. Basically she knows too much and they dispense MI6 agent Paul (Michael Fassbender) to get rid of her. She sets out on a mission to protect her father, Mr. Kane (Bill Paxton), get revenge and find answers.
Much like he did with his other film “The Girlfriend Experience,” Soderbergh uses a first-time actress. Carano is a former MMA boxer and is exceptionally good when it comes to the action scenes. As for her acting—well, she’s a little rough around the edges. Much like the movie, she isn’t bad but she isn’t great either—just kind of awkward. Aside from the fight scenes, her movements are restless like she doesn’t quite know what she’s doing.
The fight scenes are the standouts of the film and the best one easily goes to the scene between Carano and Fassbender in a hotel room. The movie opens on an amazingly high note (the fight scene between Mallory and Aaron is wonderfully filmed), but it putters out shortly after. The film is uniquely Soderbergh’s with its sharp editing, muted colors and expert precision. One of the biggest flaws of “Haywire” is the dialogue.
By the time Mallory uttered the words, “You better run,” I felt like I was sitting in a 1980s Sylvester Stallone movie. When the audience rolls their eyes more than once at the dialogue, you know you have a problem. Douglas seems to have the most fun in the few scenes that he had. He chews scenery and lightens the mood. And although McGregor doesn’t often play a villain, he does it very well, oozing a weasel charm.
But for its good points, “Haywire” has trouble getting past its core issues. You can see the people involved desperately want the movie to work. They do the best they can with they have, which isn’t much. I just have to hope now that when Carano does see this, she’s in a very forgiving mood.