“Haywire” Movie Review

     All of the elements I look for in a film seemed to be present with “Haywire”.  Steven Soderbergh is a great director and has a long list of quality films on his resume, including “Erin Brockovich”, “Oceans 11”, “Traffic”, and even the recent “Contagion”.  “Haywire” also boasts an all star cast that includes Michael Fassbender, Michael Douglas, Ewan McGregor, Antonio Bandaras, and Bill Paxton.  Without a doubt, not to shabby.  Finally, “Haywire” is lead by none other than MMA Superstar Gina Carano in her film debut.  So what’s not to like?  Should I have remembered that films like this are normally dumped into a January release date because the studio knows they stink?  Perhaps the positives clouded my better judgement, since I couldn’t wait to check out “Haywire” and I certainly went in with high hopes.  Your likely getting the idea that my tone is not one where you expect me to lavish the film with praise.

     Gina Carano plays Mallory Cane, a covert operative and former Marine who has found herself in a bit of a jam.  She’s been double crossed by her boss and after an attempt on her life is forced to go rogue to find out why.  The plot isn’t presented in a normal timeline, rather its told mostly in flashback.  When we first meet Mallory, she’s with a fellow operative in a diner, who also tries to kill her.  When he doesn’t succeed, she basically carjacks and kidnaps another patron and for some reason decides to spill her guts to him as to why she’s in this situation.  The film then jumps back to operations in Barcelona and Dublin, both of which are key to the film’s plot.  Eventually we’re brought back to present day as Mallory looks for a little payback.  Pretty simple, right?

     The problem with “Haywire” is not in concept, but rather a simple case of Soderbergh trying to get to cute with the action film genre.  Soderbergh is famous for turning various genres upside down in an effort to be something fresh and different.  I saw an interview with Gina Carano days before the film’s release where she said you haven’t seen a movie like this since the seventies.  That statement couldn’t be more true.  As I watched “Haywire”, the first thing I noticed was the lack of pace coupled with a strange musical score that sounded as if it were produced for a 1970s “Dirty Harry” film.  It’s not as if “Haywire” is meant to be a throw back, as it takes place in present day and has a very modern feel visually.  With it’s lack of pace, I really can’t call “Haywire” an action film and because the script by Lem Dobbs contains not a single line of memorable dialogue, the film stalls hard throughout.

     Much has been made of Gina Carano’s transition from fighter to actress and she is not the problem in “Haywire”.  If you follow MMA, than you already know the immense skill and physical gifts she possesses and each of her many fight scenes in “Haywire” are well done and very believable.  This isn’t like a frail Angelina Jolie or Uma Thurman beating up a bunch of faceless henchmen.  Believe me, Gina Carano is the real deal and she only needs the right opportunity in the future to succeed in a film.  Not that she doesn’t succeed here, she’s clearly one of the film’s few bright spots.  Her brawl with Michael Fassbender is sure to win this year’s “Best Fight” at the MTV Movie Awards!

     As for her supporting cast, I’m not sure what they were thinking when they signed on for this.  For most of them, there really is nothing to do and this leaves them no room to make an impact in a film that sorely needed it.  As an example, we all know what kind of a screen presence Michael Douglas is, yet in his few scenes he sits behind a desk and talks on a phone or has a lame meeting with Carano in an airplane hanger to discuss his role in her being set up.  He comes and goes several times but I can’t seem to remember anything specific that he does or says and that just shouldn’t be the case.

     I should’ve smelled this a mile away.  When a film coming out in January looks to be this good and overstocked with talent, it is almost always a massive misfire.  “Haywire” was completed over a year ago and was postponed for numerous reshoots.  All signs the studio knew they had a dud.  In it’s first weekend in theaters, “Haywire” flopped with a paltry total of about $9 million, good for sixth place.  What does that mean to you?  It means you’ll be able to rent it in about a month.  GRADE: D