Haywire (2012) directed by Steven Soderbergh

Haywire is Steven Soderbergh’s hyper-styled foray into the action genre. This adrenaline-fueled film features Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) champion Gina Carano in her first motion picture, an action-packed globe trot that spans Washington, D.C., Barcelona, Dublin, New York and New Mexico.

When we first see Mallory Kane (Carano) all indications are that she is on the run from something – but what exactly? Mallory is a black ops specialist working for a private security firm. Well at least she was; the film shifts around the narrative timeline and reveals that the consequences of a recent assignment in Barcelona have produced a life or death situation for Mallory.

As the story unfolds, each layer gets us that much closer to the center of the mystery of exactly what has placed Mallory in her current predicament.

In the director’s own words, as detailed in the production notes, the film is a “Pam Grier movie made by Hitchcock.” That is what in many ways makes this film an interesting study and sets it apart from many films of its ilk. Through dialogue courtesy of Len Dobbs (Kafka, The Limey), there is enough to keep the audience engaged.

Soderbergh uses Ms. Carano’s physical abilities to good use; in fact Ms. Carano did the majority of her own stunts. This definitely added a sense of ‘realism’ to her fights with her co-stars. Going into this film, I wanted to see her kick serious butt – and on that account she delivers and then some. In fact, I could have done with a bit more running, jumping and punching; not MUCH more, but it was so much fun watching the fighting sequences.

For Carano this is an introduction to a possible career as “female action hero,” in the style of Jason Statham. With a little more experience under her belt, she may prove herself worthy.

A wonderful supporting cast that includes Channing Tatum, Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Antonio Banderas and Bill Paxton add gravitas to Carano’s presence.

Initially I did have some slight reservations about an action film directed by Steven Soderbergh. The release date of the film amplified my skepticism; January is typically the cinematic ‘dumping ground.’

If there is one thing that I did not get that I expected was with Haywire being an “exploitation” film. Perhaps, this is down to smooth execution by Soderbergh and company so that it did not feel like one.

As I write this, what has come to my attention is that Carano is the lone principal female character – her world is a ‘man’s world.’ The fact that I have just come to this realization a few days after screening Haywire leads me to believe this was part of Soderbergh’s plan. In essence, by not directly referring to her gender, this demonstrates that her gender is absolutely irrelevant to the mechanics of the plot.

In the end, for all the deconstruction of plot, story, etc., this is basically a film to sit back and enjoy.

All Images provided by Relativity Media