Monday, 11 June 2012

Haywire (2012, Steven Soderbergh)

Haywire shows Steven Soderbergh doing what he does best once again; assembling an all star cast and throwing his hat into the ring to take on a well known and often tired genre. His last film Contagion saw him take on the disaster movie in the shape of world wide pandemic, the genre (a loose one at that) was extremely popular in the 70s and with Haywire Soderbergh takes the action back (stylistically not literally) to the same era with this action/revenge yarn. The plot is weak, the action not as frequent as expected but is held together by the presence of its central heroine. 

Mixed martial arts fighter Gina Carano makes her acting debut here after Soderbergh spotted her and became adamant in building a film around her talents. The director's infatuation with his star is clear throughout; doing her own fights and stunt work Soderbergh films her with intense fixation, whether she scales a wall or sprints after a target he is fascinated by Carono's physique and adds no cinematic trickery to heighten her abilities. 

Soderbergh's attention to Carano - the black ops soldier betrayed by her employers - takes away further attention from the cliched and frankly dull story but in this case it doesn't matter if the film merely exists as a pedestal for Carano because she carries the film with no problems. For a film with many underdeveloped areas such as this Carano certainly isn't one of them, she isn't Brando by any means but acting along side seasoned performers like Michael Douglas and Antonio Banderas she isn't below them when facing off. 

The fight sequences are technical but with a rough ferocity adding to the background of its star, Haywire is full of pulsing jazz music giving it a 70s almost edge but when the fists start flailing the music steps back, Soderbergh reminding that this is closer to the real thing rather than a 'cinematic' fight. The highlight of the film comes from a showdown between Carano and Michael Fassbender in a hotel room, emphasising once again how the stars who face off against her (Channing Tatum also impresses) are just as important to these scenes, it's the person taking the punches who needs to convince most, and unlike Carano they don't take punches for a living. Our heroine isn't shown to be invincible, in a brilliant reminder of her mortality she slips and falls from a height winding herself as she crashes to the concrete, limping off crunched over like a wounded animal, a nice touch.

Haywire isn't a great movie by any means but it's sure an enjoyable ride, it never tries to rise above the genre trappings of a B-grade action movie but with Soderbergh's slick direction it's given the visual edge over most. The film succeeds due to its leading lady's ability to hold the screen, given the experienced talent she faces here only Carano makes an impression - a bright future in Hollywood set for sure. Though it doesn't add anything new to the action genre it's not trying to either and with the absence of forced 'girl power' moments that would cheapen the picture Haywire is a success, a perfect saturday night movie after an indulgent takeaway.