Steven Soderbergh – Haywire
(Irish Film Board, Relativity Media)
Words: Rob DeStefano

Last month Tom Cruise proved that athleticism and stunt work are the superior methods for materializing a film’s action. Avoiding quick cuts and CGI laden scenes, Steven Soderbergh also believes in this “raw” approach to excitement. Haywire, his imagining of a rogue agent’s revenge, adheres to these principals, making it an efficient thriller that sends you out of the theater wanting to kick some ass.

Soderbergh’s well-rounded cast is usually a good starting point for discussing any of his films. Here he introduces Gina Carano, a mixed-martial-arts expert who is essentially new to the big screen. She is likeable from the start, partly because she is the victim – she can’t drink a cup of coffee without someone trying to murder her – but mainly it’s a unique allure that allows her to stand strong against bigwigs like Douglas and Paxton. Carano’s character is not stripped of emotions or vulnerability: though these necessities are simplified, they are potent enough to drive her through and justify the 93 minute quest. Even a simple transient encounter with Michael Angarano makes her seem sensitive amidst a shoot out.

Seeing the rest of the players engage in beautifully choreographed fight sequences is both a pleasure and the main attraction of Haywire. Fassbender, McGregor, and Tatum are devoted to their brawls, which are made gripping and realistic by the static camera setups and the actors’ precision. I can’t recall the last time a director brought this level of realism to hand-to-hand combat: it’s utterly refreshing.

The script takes the back seat, which is fine since it doesn’t aspire to have the finesse of a Kill Bill. Carano is a secret agent who works for a private contractor (McGregor). We quickly dismiss any further explanation when a character delivers a line like, “Of course black market assassins exist!” Suspend your disbelief and move forward. When Carano is set-up on a Dublin mission, she is forced to evade authorities and uncover her betrayer. Some exposition is delivered via flashback while other showdowns unfold like stages in a videogame, but it all dodges a mechanical feel.

Though Soderbergh’s recent endeavor may not aim for greatness or occupy your thoughts for too long, it boasts a clarity – which shouldn’t be mistaken for negligent work – that goes down easy, and is damn fun.

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Comments ( 1 Comment )

No way, I totally wasn’t gonna see it. Now I’ll have to go catch it. I hope gets a full cup of coffee in by the end.

evdillon added these pithy words on Feb 01 12 at 9:03 am

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