Almost convinced that the grueling fights taking place in this film were for real, this was definitely a pristine showcase of how action films should be made. Forgoing the story almost entirely and opting for perfecting the action thriller genre with great camerawork and editing, this would be a whole new playing field altogether especially after throwing in a new found starlet in the form of MMA fighter Gina Carano.
This dynamic action-thriller directed by Oscar(R) winner Steven Soderbergh (Traffic) boasts a talented cast that includes Channing Tatum (GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra), Ewan McGregor (The Ghost Writer), Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class), Antonio Banderas (The Legend of Zoro), Bill Paxton ("Big Love"), Michael Douglas (Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps), Michael Angarano (Almost Famous); and introduces mixed martial arts (MMA) superstar Gina Carano as Mallory Kane, in a demanding lead role that has her performing her own high-adrenaline stunts.
Mallory Kane is a highly trained operative who works for a government security contractor in the dirtiest, most dangerous corners of the world. After successfully freeing a Chinese journalist held hostage, she is double crossed and left for dead by someone close to her in her own agency. Suddenly the target of skilled assassins who know her every move, Mallory must find the truth in order to stay alive.
Using her black-ops military training, she devises an ingenious--and dangerous--trap. But when things go haywire, Mallory realizes she'll be killed in the blink of an eye unless she finds a way to turn the tables on her ruthless adversary.
One thing for sure, Soderbergh's Haywire wasn't an extravagant piece of thoughtful filmmaking. It was an action thriller genre masterpiece. Without the frills of overly detailed plot and narrative that often bogged down action thrillers to prevent them from entering overdrive, the thrills were much instilled via great technical flair and a confident performance by MMA fighter Gina Carano.
While the story and plot were kept as lean as possible, the narrative style was nevertheless erratic and nonlinear to instill that constant sense of confusion and mystery towards what exactly was happening.
With that in place, the film didn't seem to clear the shrouds for the audience and dove straight into what's best for the genre - action and thrills. The film's level of activity wasn't measured in terms of the number of shots fired and the magnitude of explosions like how most other action blockbusters did, in fact it was measured in the amount of rawness and grit.
Previously unknown as an actress, Carano gave an über vibe saturated in confidence and certainty as if she had been performing all her stunts on a regular routine.
Take the opening scene for instance, we had no idea what exactly was happening. Carano sat across Channing Tatum confronting each other like a sore bickering couple, the next moment before we know it one began splashing hot coffee remorselessly at the other and bashing each other up vigorously as if their bodies knew no limits to pain. It was excruciatingly painful to witness, but it had every single element of realism in it. This was surprisingly further heightened at a later hotel room brawl between Carano and (gasp!) Michael Fassbender.
(First 5 minutes of "Haywire")
This was also thanks to the camerawork and editing performed by Soderbergh's alter egos.
The technical excellence pertaining to the above was especially noticed in a chase scene where Carano scampered around hastily to avoid the apprehension by a swarm of tactical forces unit. Within split seconds, the silver screen was filled with a vast sequence of varying shots in various angles in rapid edits to establish that exhilarating picture of action perspective and what was taking place.
Some of the thrills weren't presented blatantly. In fact, there was one rendered in a flashback sequence manner with muted sound. There were also times when the action played to the Jazz and Blues track by David Holmes, which was a refreshing change from the usual horn blasts and trumpet roar fare.
It instilled a sense of calmness and familiarity as if everything's alright and going to plan. But it's not, that's why the film's titled "Haywire". Not only was the plot presentation in a muddling nonlinear fashion, but the brawls that took place was also extremely ugly and messy (as how actual brawls take place in reality) in no seemingly choreographed fashion as if they're documented off a real fight (kudos to the stunt and fight choreography, yes they were present!).
Yet again, we saw Soderbergh's practice of employing A-list cast as sideline supporting characters and not shy to kill them off in this film.
Soderbergh definitely seemed like he had some fun with this slick and quick paced genre practice that enabled him to unlock certain aspects within himself in between major projects. If you're looking for well-invested story and themes, you might be disappointed because Haywire dared to confront the audience as who it truly was:
A fluid piece of action thriller that contained thrilling action.