I Saw A Film Today… Haywire

I’m not a fan of MMA fighting. I find it a little too brash and brutal for my taste (believe it or not). It’s a sport aimed at the energy drink youth who only find something satisfying only if it occurs within five minutes. I prefer the finer science of boxing, even though that sport can be just as brutal. But there is one MMA fighter I will watch and that is Gina Carano. She’s just so entertaining to me. So when I heard she was taking the lead in a Steven Soderbergh film, I was interested. But can a MMA fighter with no prior acting experience, I wondered how well she would handle her role.

******

Mallory Kane (Carano) is sitting in a cafe alone, visibly waiting on someone. In walks a man named Aaron (Channing Tatum). The two talk for a while, about things that makes little sense to the audience. And then abruptly Aaron and Mallory get into a brawl right in the middle of the cafe, eventually subduing Aaron. Afterwards she kidnaps one of diners (Michael Angarano), takes his car, and drives away frantically. What is the reason for this?

Everything can be traced back to a simple extraction job in Barcelona. It is revealed that Mallory is an agent for a private firm who does covert operations for the American Government. After the successful job in Barcelona, Mallory is asked to do a rather simple task: To be an escort for a MI-6 agent named Paul (Michael Fassbender) for a dinner in Dublin. But she soon learns this is a set up and is now on the run from authorities.

Now Mal is hunting down the men responsible. This includes Aaron, her boss (Ewan McGregor), a shady Government official (Michael Douglas), and a mysterious mission leader (Antonio Banderas).

Haywire is a very stylish thriller, although one with a rather weak story. There are many times while watching this film that I thought to myself “What is the significance of the Barcelona job?” and “Who exactly is the guy that got extracted and why is he important?” I’m sure that at some point during the film this was explained but for whatever reason it was lost in the hustle and bustle of Soderbergh’s storytelling.

The strong suit of this film was its action sequences. Carano may not be much of an actress (will be explored further later) but she excels in the action scenes. Not only that but Soderbergh shows his mastery in these moments. Instead of a scene with a soundtrack set against it, Soderbergh just lets the scene play without one. Although not completely original, it gave the scenes a more authentic feeling. This could also be contributed to Carano’s MMA past.

As I said earlier, Miss Carano is not much of an actress. Although to be fair this may also be contributed to the fact that she was voiced over by another actress after shooting had completed. In truth, you can’t truly gauge Miss Carano based on this film since she hasn’t truly acted in anything else. Although I will say she would make a great Wonder Woman. Just picture it for a moment.

The rest of the cast, although large names and great actors, were decidedly mediocre here. If there was one person who put on a worse acting performance that Carano, it would be Channing Tatum. How this man still gets jobs as an actor amazes me. I truly believe he just showed up on the day without reading the script and said “let’s do this!” Michael Douglas give the impression that he didn’t really try either. Antonio Banderas also gave the same impression but at least he has the swagger to cover that up. The only two who impressed were Ewan McGregor and Michael Fassbender.

There isn’t much of a story or substance here. It’s also far from Soderbergh’s best. But it’s fun and Carano has enough energy in it that it is worth a viewing.

Verdict: RENT IT!

*Rated R for Some Violence. (Personally I don’t believe this film warrants an R rating. The violence isn’t anywhere near as gory as many mediocre horror films with a PG-13 rating. Another failure for the MPAA rating system.)

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