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The Independent Critic

Gina Carano, Michael Douglas, Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Channing Tatum, Bill Paxton, Antonio Banderas, Matthieu Kassovitz, Michael Angarano
Steven Soderbergh
Lem Dobbs
Rated R
93 Mins.
Overture Films

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 "Haywire" Review 
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Mallory Kane (Gina Carano) is a beautiful covert operative. Hired out for tasks that governments "can't" handle, she's acquired a reputation as a kick-ass operative among her discreet group of peers. After a successful mission to rescue a hostage in Barcelona, Mallory is hired out by her handler for a mission in Dublin where she's betrayed and the mission goes horribly awry.

Left with almost nothing, Mallory must utilize all the skills she's acquired to escape an international manhunt, protect her family and exact revenge upon those who betrayed her.

Directed by Steven Soderbergh, one of the most versatile of today's directors, Haywire is a B-list film from an A-list director that is made all the better because Soderbergh is so talented that he knows how to turn nothing into something.

Gina Carano, a retired MMA fighter whose versatility can be best observed by noting her placing #16 on Maxim Magazine's list of the Most Beautiful Women and #5 on Yahoo's list of Most Influential Women, is a star in the making though it's most likely along the lines of a Dwayne Johnson-style star than it is a Meryl Streep one.

Haywire doesn't require great acting, simply a convincing screen presence and an ability to convincingly kick ass with conviction.

Mission accomplished.

Because this is a Soderbergh film, Haywire is filled to the brim with well known stars willing to be relegated to supporting and bit players. Soderbergh has long shown a willingness to utilize no-name performers, Bubble as an example, but he's mostly shown a willingness to do whatever it takes to get his point across even if it doesn't always make sense.

Soderbergh remains one of my favorite directors, not because he constantly hits the mark but because of his versatility and willingness to experiment across cinematic genres. This is his first effort in creating a martial arts film, and the film possesses his trademark visual style along with a refusal to compromise quality dialogue. The action sequences are fluidly created and almost poetic in their presentation to such a degree that one is not always aware where special effects begin and end, though I get the sense that the highly athletic Carano performs the majority of her own action work. The film's supplementary characters, played convincingly by the likes of Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas and Michael Fassbender, are far more substantial than we usually find in such a film.

As is true of virtually every film opening this weekend, Haywire is a flawed film that still manages to entertain though, I suspect, those who prefer intelligent thrillers will be disappointed and those who prefer hardcore action flicks will also be disappointed. This film rests somewhere comfortably within the middle, and it will be interesting to see if audiences respond well to its middle ground adventures.

Much of why Haywire works is almost solely because of how Soderbergh directs the film by creating an almost laid back action film with inspired action set-ups for Carano companioned quite nicely by David Holmes' jazzy and entertaining original score. It's not quite electrifying but it is consistently appealing to watch Carano work through her list of potential betrayers that include a peer (Channing Tatum), a faux boyfriend (Michael Fassbender), her boss (Ewan McGregor) and another operative (Antonio Banderas) with questionable motives. Bill Paxton makes a welcome appearance as her tough-as-nails father.

Haywire is a decent film, but certainly nowhere near the top of the list for Soderbergh. It's a film that consistently entertains, yet also consistently reminds of other films that do similar things with much better results. The film may be most notable for introducing us to Gina Carano, whom I suspect we'll be seeing much more of, and for Soderbergh's ability to convincingly pull off yet another genre.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic