‘Haywire’ Review

Published 2 years ago by

haywire review gina carano Haywire Review
Screen Rant’s Ben Kendrick reviews Haywire

Fans of mixed martial arts (MMA) are likely already familiar with Gina Carano – a highly ranked Middleweight fighter (and ex-American Gladiator “Crush”) who was recently scooped up by director Steven Soderbergh for an action-heroine role.

Now, Soderbergh and Carano are set to deliver their combined effort: The action-espionage film Haywire, which mixes the director’s sharp visual style and intriguing character drama with Carano’s heavy-hitting and downright brutal fight choreography.

Like much of Soderbergh’s work, Haywire stumbles here and there – but ultimately delivers a unique moviegoing experience that is both intelligent and especially exciting to watch. Concerns over Carano’s casting (which some detractors believed would be representative of style over substance) are quickly put to rest as the newcomer actress easily presents a performance that balances some of the most savage fight choreography in recent memory – as well as nuanced dialogue exchanges with a number of Hollywood’s top acting talent (Michael Fassbender and Ewan McGregor, among others).

The Haywire storyline is ultimately pretty straightforward. At times it comes across as less of a driving force for the characters and more of an excuse for Carano to showcase her action chops. She plays Mallory Kane, a highly sought-after contract spy who suddenly finds herself on the run after her former employer (and ex-lover) Kenneth (Ewan McGregor) attempts to have her killed. In order to expose her handler’s betrayal, Mallory must fight through a number of life-threatening scenarios, while Kenneth (along with similarly shady individuals) throws everything from local law enforcement to highly-trained mercenaries in her way. While the plot isn’t as sharp as some of Soderbergh’s other films (Ocean’s Eleven and Traffic), the narrative still succeeds at delivering an intriguing action-drama piece filled with interesting character dynamics – all grounded in some truly rough-and-tumble fight choreography.

Gina Carano Haywire Movie Haywire Review

Gina Carano in action as Mallory in 'Haywire'

As mentioned, Carano holds her own as both a rising action star and a capable actress. It’s actually refreshing to see Carano popping up on the Hollywood radar under Soderbergh’s wing instead of a less subtle filmmaker (like Michael Bay or Paul W.S. Anderson). Instead of a vapid, ass-kicking piece of eye candy, the director smartly positioned Carano to be taken seriously for her acting and not just her ability to choke a man out with her thighs. As a result, it’s easy to see that both Haywire and Carano’s future acting endeavors will both benefit greatly from Soderbergh’s approach. Mallory has to wear a lot of different faces in this film, and while a few of them are depicted with less success than others, there’s never a moment where Carano’s inexperience shines through – and, more often than not, the rookie actress (we’re not counting her direct-to-DVD film, Blood and Bone, with Michael Jai White) actually manages to offer up some intriguing and convincing complexities.

The tone set by Soderbergh and Carano also requires the supporting cast to step up their physical game as well – with some truly hard-hitting sequences for Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, and Channing Tatum. In addition to the physical moments, pretty much everyone involved manages to present interesting and nuanced onscreen drama – with some memorable (and lengthy) single take dialogue exchanges between characters.

While Haywire is definitely an entertaining ride with some fun set-pieces and killer fight sequences, it’s possible that some moviegoers will feel that despite its good points, the film is ultimately pretty thin. Most of the characters involved are interesting to watch moment to moment but don’t get to enjoy actual over-arching story progressions. Plus, nearly every characters is a static image, unchanged by the events that play out, until Mallory either rescues or kills them.

Ewan McGregor Haywire Haywire Review

Ewan McGregor as Kenneth in 'Haywire'

Even Carano’s Mallory isn’t given very far to grow – and while she’s believable and interesting, Soderbergh’s “force of nature” approach to the character removes a bit of tension as the story progresses – since most of Mallory’s “slip-ups” aren’t actually her fault. In their attempt to make Mallory one of the most accomplished covert operatives in the game – the filmmakers wrote themselves into a corner. If Mallory screws up, she’s not badass enough; however, inconvenient things need to happen to her to keep the story moving. As a result, a number of situations that force the plot forward are actually just the result of random events – such as a forest scene where Mallory out-maneuvers two police cruisers and is only thwarted by a disconnected external encounter.

Though it doesn’t detract from the scene-to-scene enjoyment, the story beats remove a lot of responsibility from Mallory’s shoulders, allowing her to be both top dog (rarely making mistakes) as well as action fodder (pulled back into the story through “not her fault” events). As a result, Haywire features a number of scenes that while enjoyable, are a bit too convenient with a protagonist that is exceptionally entertaining to watch but isn’t really forced to own any of the fallout – even though her actions do, at times, put friends and loved ones in jeopardy. Ultimately, the filler between the action set-pieces can be pretty interesting but it’s hard to escape the over-arching sense that showcasing Carano’s fighting chops is priority number one.

The Haywire plot isn’t Soderbergh’s strongest and the filmmakers obviously struggled a bit in balancing Mallory’s kick-butt onscreen action with the larger movements of the story. However, few of the film’s shortcomings ultimately detract from the minute to minute onscreen ride – which benefits greatly from the director’s smart visual flourishes and Carano’s fresh (and uncompromising) approach to action. Some moviegoers might ultimately scoff at details in the film’s narrative – but watching Carano throw her entire body and soul into Mallory never falters in delivering compelling onscreen action.

If you’re still on the fence about Haywire, check out the trailer below:

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Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick - and let us know what you thought of the film.

Haywire is now in theaters.

Our Rating:

4 out of 5
(Excellent)

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71 Comments

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  1. i haven’t seen this movie, but from what i’ve heard of it, it dosen’t seem very original.i mean, Come on! a woman, on the run, betrayed by the CIA orgination she was part of, that’s almost a complete copy of Salt. I’m sure if i watch the movie it’ll be very entertaining, but it’s like seeing the same stuff, just written a different way. Hell the ending is probably similar. I not completely nocking the movie, cause again, i haven’t seen it. but it dosen’t seem totally original. if i’m wrong tell me. but i stand by my beliefs.

    • @Anjel

      Actually, that’s NOT the story. That’s what they wanted you to think from the trailer, but that’s actually not how it goes down in the movie. And sorry to break it to you, but that wasn’t the story of Salt either… But that movie was crap anyway…

  2. Saw this the other day, and wasn’t too impressed. While the movie tries to change things up by being non-linear, the plot itself isn’t anything special, and I’m not really a fan of Soderbergh’s style. It’s not loud and bombastic like the latest Underworld, but more subtle; even the action sequences seem subdued. I was hoping for something more in between.

    I do like the fact the Carano is a practiced MMA fighter, which carries weight with me if we’re supposed to believe she’s an action hero. I give it 3 stars.

  3. I saw this last night. It was entertaining, but not really worth the $10.25 for the ticket. I would save it for a matinee or a future rental.

    • Agreed. I saw it as a matinee, and it’s worth only that much (maybe less).

  4. Saw this film. its missing substance and good bqxkground music. almost feels like ur there in a disurted dubli. street even in nrw mexico scene… its lacks the umph of a blockbuster.
    Although the fight scenes get a 5 star .

  5. Saw this the other day, and was not that impressed. To put it simply, everything outside of the fight scenes is boring. I was bored watching this movie. The fight scenes are fantastic, simply some of the best fight choreography ever done in movies (and if you know anything about MMA, you’ll appreciate the work that went into this), but the characters are flat and uninteresting, the dialogue is terrible (not even so-bad-its-good terrible, just terrible), and despite the best efforts of the talented actors onscreen, there is nothing between fight scenes to hold your attention. Even then, there aren’t that many action scenes in the movie, or at least it felt like there weren’t that many. Plus, the director clearly intended the film to be seen as “artsy”, as evidenced by the number of carefully framed shots where nothing is occurring for the longest time. Maybe I’m just shallow, but I don’t really want to pay for a hard-hitting action movie and get a 20-second shot of the main characters riding up an escalator.

  6. I have come to the conclusion that movie trailers are decietful, show most of the action and are not representative of the films they are marketing. Conan the Barbarian, along with this film comes to mind. I expected more from the A-List actors (Ewan M, Micheal D, Antonio B, et all) but I guess a simple paycheck matters more than substance. I was sitting in the theater expecting more but it never came. The fight scenes were great but the moves came slower than in a Jason Bourne film. I guess that is what I am comparing this film too.
    The music in the film kept taking me out of it. It sounded like “Ocean’s 11!” While the stars were great to look at, it will not save you from the feeling that you have, like Mallory, been betrayed!

    • @viic2

      The difference is that the fight moves in the Bourne movies are completely unrealistic and completely stupid in my opinion. But I guess for most movie-goers who don’t know how real fight moves look like, the Bourne movies could look like it had good fight scenes…

  7. Watching it was like a slow death, it’s so boring and some of us fell asleep! Didnt expect d movie that bad. The ending part after antonio banderas said stuff the audience looked at each other and laughed! OMG..

  8. I saw this last night and i have to say..i seriously hated it. I can’t even believe how much i didn’t like it, even with the mentality that it’s just a nice action film i still just found it really awkward. The only thing i really LIKED about it was the whole no music over fight scenes thing AND the way the story was being told as they were driving but those two features WILL be(and have been) copied in films to come so scratch that.. Other than that..yeah Gina is sexy and the cast is awesome but i mean…it feels really lacking in something. Sure the ending makes you go “TUH LOL” but when it ended i was actually for the first time one of those people that went “THATS IT?” not so much because you’re left to assume the outcome but i really just felt ham-stringed by it because i was just waiting for something to happen the whole time.
    I guess this is how all the girls felt when ‘Drive’ came out. I now understand why that woman felt so betrayed by ‘Drive’ and decided to sue, i mean i REALLY REALLY wanted to like this but yeah..nothing. I’m upset with myself for running out of the house to see it because i was two weeks late and they already knocked the film down to one showtime at the theater near me. I’m done with Soderbergh FOREVERRR

  9. I would give it 3.5 stars. It drug at points, but the fight scenes were very good. Gina Carano is very easy on the eyes, and is at least believable in beating up guys as opposed to other female leads in action movies (at least Kate Beckinsale is a vampire). I may have preferred to actually watch it on DVD, but my gf was into seeing it so I figured why not.

  10. I love action fliks. Either you got it or you don’t. This one didn’t. I would compare it with Chuck Norris’ first spy movie, he went all around the world but was still boring! It did not make any sense (but then sense is not why we watch!)
    Even with all the big name actors it was boring! As with Chuck Norri’s movie, this was a ‘B’ movie. Lacking…

  11. Awful no acting skills from the star half a plot the fact tht some heavy hollywood hitters were in this dud makes me think the director or some producer called in a favor either way this is a bomb truly a flop how Michael douglas would put his name on it is beyond me 1 star unless the rating system wld allow for negative stars then it wld gt 5 negative dolph lookout you got c class action movie competition in this duo

  12. I am glad I downloaded this movie instead of paying money to rent it or see it in theaters. Worst “supposed” action film ever. Very few fight scenes, which were just ok…nothing special. Everything in between the fight scenes were very boring. I am completely confused as to how no one told Soderbergh, after watching a screening of it, that it sucked butt! Learn how to make a decent action film Soderbergh, or go back to film school!

    • tried to watch this movie twice and fell asleep both times. movie is just horrible. no acting in this movie what-so-eve. cant believe this got better ratings on here than contraband. some people just dont have any taste in movies.

  13. The biggest load of rubbish ive seen in years. Saw all the big name actors in the cover in blockbuster and thought this will b good. How wrong i was. Either that chick has lots of money( maybe daddy does) or shes sleeping with soderbergh. She cant act at all. Very average fight scenes. Mcgregor, douglas, banderas etc. should all be ashamed of themselves. This is a really really bad movie.