Steven Soderbergh could have made the female Bourne movie. I’m afraid Joe Wright beat him to that with 2011’s Hanna. Granted, Hanna was an adolescent girl set in a bizarre modern day fairy tale. Haywire replaces the girl with a woman MMA fighter and trades the fairy tale for mostly mundane exposition.
Mallory Kane (Gina Carano) is on the run. It’s not clear what for exactly in the opening moments of the film but we learn quickly that someone is not happy with her being out and about. There is something different about Mallory. Within minutes she is bashing in the head of Channing Tatum as she makes a run for it out of the rural diner. She forces a young man to get in his car and give her the keys. And away they go.
During the car ride Mallory explains her predicament. She’s a special agent for a private company that does work for various government agencies. It’s not the cleanest line of work and the reward for a job well done is being setup by her boss Kenneth (Ewan McGregor). Mallory escapes the trap with casualties trailing behind her. From that point forward the hunt is on for Mallory Kane.
What should be an action packed movie is mostly a lot of slowly paced scenes with plenty of dialogue to fill the gaps. A star studded cast fills the movie but is put to little use. Everyone seems subdued. And while some may blame Gina Carano for bringing the level of acting down several notches, she is not the problem. The entire cast is incapable of breaking free of the malaise that plagues them. Carano may be a bit of a gimmick, but no one can blame her for the lulls in the pacing, the generally out of place soundtrack, the dialogue heavy screenplay, and the ugly look of the film. Soderbergh’s style normally agrees with me. His penchant for using odd coloring is normally OK, but Haywire is flat out ugly. The colors distort an already flat looking picture. Rather than artistic, the look feels sloppy at best.
When there is action, it’s quite good. The fighting is not cut up with quick edits and annoying close ups that obscure the action. Fights are given the room to breathe, which is a rarity these days where special effects and hyperactive editing make a mess of far too many action sequences. Those scenes are entertaining and leave one wondering why there are five minutes of action followed up by three times as much filler. If only Soderbergh took his sense of fun and style with Ocean’s Eleven and mixed it with the energy of the fight scenes. Oh well.