Review: Haywire

I never thought I would be calling a film that opens with former Abercrombie & Fitch model, Channing Tatum throwing coffee in the face of Gina Carano, a female UFC fighter, sophisticated - but what do you know, I am. Steven Soderbergh has presented us with Haywire, a punchy, lean, all-star action film in his typical efficient style.

Haywire follows freelance operative, Mallory Kane (Gina Carano), dragged into an international manhunt after being double crossed by her employer after returning from a hostage rescue in Barcelona. The film may strike a chord with fans of Soderbergh's similar film, The Limey - as both are scribed by Lem Dobbs.

Soderbergh's film is carefully constructed through a serious of flashbacks that explores the Barcelona mission and a further botched operation in Dublin with MI6 to Mallory on the run from international law enforcement. As you can imagine, this tale soon becomes fairly tangled and certain elements of Dobbs' script become confusing and incoherent - although generally throughout its clear the main driving force behind the story is Mallory trying to prove her innocence. The screenplay may compromise on emotional development in Carano's Mallory but allows for some entertaining globetrotting and skilfully crafted action sequences from Soderbergh. This is an undeniably stylish piece which uses effective techniques including a seamless transition from colour to black and white and back, as well as swift, lean editing that can be seen at its finest in a taut chase scene through the streets of Dublin. The direction is sharp and there is a strong sense of realism about Haywire which is displayed through its strikingly brutal hand-to-hand combat scenes: we hear every punch and see every hit - this is not typical frantic rushed action and this slower take truly works in giving Haywire a raw, convincing feel.

Carano's lead performance is fairly strong (considering this is her debut in a leading role) - her professional fighting experience is clearly a bonus in the brutal combat scenes, although at points it is hard to deny that her acting range is not so strong (most noticeably in her scenes with Mallory's father). Although, I'd gladly watch Carano - a convincing female action, over the likes of Angelina Jolie's stunt double running around in Salt. Haywire also features a stellar supporting cast including Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, man of the moment -Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Michael Angarano and Channing Tatum. Some of these characters - mainly Douglas and Banderas' feel slightly lost in the complexities of the script, appearing as if they are only there to explain what is happening.

Haywire is a highly enjoyable and stylish action-thriller. There's an array of stellar action sequences and convincing performances from the all-star cast, but there's undeniably a spark missing - most likely from the lack of attachment to Carano's character and small incoherencies in the script.

Rating: 3.5/5

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