So was this Steven Soderbergh’s final project for film school? The question is posed for it seems that the stylish director (Ocean’s flicks, Traffic, Contagion, etc.) couldn’t afford a talented lead for Haywire. Plus, the sound edit, uh, sounds as if a micro-budgeted indie filmmaker made this on his Macbook. Actually, one could probably get better sound out of that computer.
Obviously, this isn’t Soderbergh’s senior project and there was some coin behind it ($25 million) as you can surmise from the talented cast that chimed in on this 93 minute flick. And although the action, which is to say hand-to-hand combat sequences, had some intensity to them, the script suffers immensely from the storytelling execution via the femme fatale, Gina Carano.
Her dialogue delivery is bloody awful to the point that you feel sorry for her as you watch this. Now even though the story wasn’t all that riveting to begin with, having the majority of it told through the more-or-less rookie actress was clearly too much to ask here. She is surrounded by an accomplished supporting cast and she does have the ability to carry them in the above mention decently choreographed fight sequences. But once those come and go, the mediocre level this flick attains drops faster than a man between Carano’s leg scissors. And speaking of those legs, the one thing Carano did accomplish is the dethroning of Famke Janssen (Goldeneye 1995); as she can now proudly wear the title of having the sexiest choke-hold in cinematic history.
While Carano just isn’t ready to enhance this spy-betrayed-by-the-system saga outside of using her apt MMA skills – and perhaps Soderbergh realized this during filming, as there are prolonged shots of her just running around and scaling rooftops (one of the better shot sequences though), it all falls on Soderbergh and the story to keep us wired in. Watching Soderbergh’s camera placement is always intriguing. If he’s shooting on a rooftop, he’ll find a crevice between a fireplace and a pipe and guide the lens through as it follows the character. When screenplay is active, he’s at his best. And much like his Ocean’s flicks, the luring musical score has the ability to set the tone.
Most of everything stated above is realized within the first thirty minutes. And while the direction of this piece doesn’t quite come fully together, one is hopeful the plot will eventually catch you. Unfortunately, it just isn’t happening here. The atmosphere is subdued despite it being a spy-thriller. It’s not wordy or bland like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy or The American, but it doesn’t have an adrenaline rush commonly found in a Bourne movie or even Salt for that matter. As far as originality goes, there is none. Well, except for the fact that Carano actually looks like she can kick some ass as opposed to a 95lbs. Angelina Jolie. So basically, this is just Soderbergh’s take on a spy-thriller…that isn’t all that thrilling and has a few mechanical issues.
Overall, Haywire can never really get going. At certain turns, you wonder if this would even make the cut to be shown in a local film festival based on the production and acting levels of Gina Carano. The pacing is fairly good when considering the short running time, yet the product as a whole feels like a rush job that people just wanted to unload. In other words: Why bother even making this?
RATING: 2 out of 5