Steven Soderbergh has crafted that rarest of things with Haywire: the classy action picture. But don’t mistake classy for boring. Haywire can be incredibly brutal at times, but never sadistic, where the action bursts out at the viewer from nowhere. The film stars MMA fighter Gina Carano as Mallory, who’s basically a gun-for-hire, doing covert jobs for her ex-boyfriend’s (Ewan McGregor) security firm. We learn early on that she’s been double-crossed and is on the run, while the bulk of the film brings the audience up-to-speed in flashbacks as to why. Even with the familiar set-up, the screenplay by Lem Dobb (who’s worked with Soderbergh in the past on The Limey and Kafka) is nevertheless intelligent and has a welcome, deadpan sense of humor. It helps that the supporting cast contains the kind of players that can make anything entertaining. It especially helps make up for Carano’s lack of range, but in the end, she’s not asked to do much. Of course, her acting chops are not the reason she’s in this movie. Instead, it’s her athleticism that’s the draw, as the action scenes are tailored to her skills as an MMA fighter. Soderbergh shoots these scenes with little fuss — normally just putting the camera in place and only making edits when necessary — leaving a movie with a thankful lack of shaky cam and quick cuts. By allowing the performers to perform, and the fight choreographer to simply craft an action sequence, Soderbergh has created a rare modern action film that doesn’t rely on bluster and sleight-of-hand, jumbled editing to be exciting. As straight entertainment, Haywire’s hard to beat right now.
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Writer: Lem Dobbs
Cast: Channing Tatum, Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas, Michael Fassbender, Gina Carano, Antonio Banderas, Bill Paxton and Michael Angarano