Combustible Celluloid
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With: Gina Carano, Channing Tatum, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Mathieu Kassovitz, Bill Paxton, Michael Angarano, Julian Alcaraz, Eddie J. Fernandez, Aaron Cohen, Maximino Arciniega, Anthony Brandon Wong
Written by: Lem Dobbs
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
MPAA Rating: R for some violence
Running Time: 93
Date: 11/07/2011

Haywire (2012)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Girling Up

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Though director Steven Soderbergh has a wide-ranging filmography, it can be argued that his fun, genre entries (Out of Sight, The Limey, Ocean's Eleven, etc.), are overall better than his "serious" movies (Traffic, The Good German, Contagion, etc.). His new Haywire is a pared-down, almost simplistic action movie, mostly designed to showcase the beauty and power of his new star, the female mixed martial arts fighter Gina Carano.

Mallory (Carano) is a super-cool secret agent with impeccable mixed martial arts fighting skills. After finishing up a job in Barcelona freeing a hostage, she looks forward to relaxing a bit. Unfortunately her employer (Ewan McGregor) has an emergency: an easy two-day job wherein she must pose as the partner to agent Paul (Michael Fassbender). It's not long before Mallory realizes that the whole thing is a setup designed to get her out of the way. Now, escaping in a borrowed car with a civilian (Michael Angarano), she has only one chance to clear up the loose ends and set things right.

The movie features many fine, recognizable actors in small roles; their dialogue is spare, and never divulges too much information or panders to the audience. The story itself is a fairly old one in this genre, and aside from the fact that Haywire is told in a non-linear fashion, it doesn't have much to add. Soderbergh presents the fight scenes cleanly and simply, often without a music score, though he uses a funky brass score for chase scenes. However, in stripping away the fat, Soderbergh has also taken away some of the movie's emotional content; though it's a thrilling experience, it's also a somewhat surface one.

Lionsgate's Blu-Ray is top-notch highlighting Soderbergh's trademark strong use of colors to differentiate various settings. Sound is also excellent. Extras include a cool 16-minute featurette, "Gina Carano in Training," and a 5-minute featurette about her male co-stars. There are also a bunch of Lionsgate trailers. Too bad there aren't more goodies, but aficionados will certainly enjoy this fun movie.

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