Sunday, 12 February 2012



Dir: Steven Soderbergh (Solaris, Oceans 11, The Girlfriend Experience)
Cast: Gina Carano, Michael Douglas, Ewan McGregor, Channing Tatum, Michael Fassbender, Antonio Banderas, Bill Paxton
USA/Ireland, 2012

Seen: January 25, 2012 at the Rainbow

Reason to see: Female protagonist action films are always on my to see list

Haywire stars Mixed Martial Artist Gina Carano, and is directed by Steven Soderbergh which I miraculously kind of forgot about before going in because all I really needed was an MMA star in a film to pull me to see it. But Soderbergh directed Oceans 11, 12, 13, the Solaris remake and The Girlfriend Experience, and it’s no doubt he is a very stylish director which you could really feel that in the film. The pacing and the storytelling style were very different than I was expecting; a lot of action films go for a very high-paced style but Haywire feels much more like a drama, with action. It feels like an American espionage drama with action and a female protagonist as opposed to an action film. Although the action is fantastic and Gina Cararo is amazing and certainly will be a draw to the film, the most important part of the film which is her character journey and the story which has some welcome mystery elements to it.

I do wonder if some people will think the pacing is too slow, and I found myself spending time while watching literally interpreting and experiencing the film from the perspective of the fact that it wasn’t what I was expected. But, once I settled into realizing what they were going with and just relaxed into it, I really enjoyed it and I particularly enjoyed that it has a slow burn with a lot of visual storytelling. We get to watch Mallory (Gina Cararo), as she herself is watching, interpreting and reacting to what is going on around her in a very visual manner. I was very impressed by this, the completely visual storytelling that was accompanied by a groovy soundtrack were a huge highlight of the film and something sets it apart from many current-day action films proving that you don’t have to shock & scare us with stuff to entertain us, you can also appeal to our logical minds as we try to piece together the puzzles, be they ones of action or espionage. It was very impressive.

It was fantastic to see Gina Cararo was so good in this role as an action star, so much so that it actually pushes buttons and boundaries of things that we don’t normally see; for example if she is fighting a guy in the film – they are really going all out at each other. She’s not treated differently and she’s certainly not treated lightly, she’ll get thrown around just as much as anyone else who is in an action film. It’s literally a new primer when there dynamics of the fight aren’t re-adjusted to balance for any strengths or weaknesses of either fighter; they are treated as equals. Although theoretically I cheered and the balance, it took a while to adjust to seeing that. They did also call out on some action film tropes to be a more clear counter-reaction to what we often see gender wise, that didn’t work in the film quite a smoothly as the action balance did, but considering it’s such a new shift I think its’ entirely fair to expect some growing pains. To be honest, I’m happy to take those growing pains if the counter is seeing an amazing, capable, and believable action star. And that is exactly what we got: Gina Cararo is amazing, capable, believable and very dynamic action star and I look forward to seeing her in more films in the future. The story was good too, and I was impressed I could keep up considering espionage can be a bit of challenge for me but I suspect seeing it in open captioning help (see more on the experience of open captioning here).

Overall, the action, score and tone were all amazing plus I enjoyed the story as well. But Gina really was the pull to the film, and she pulled me right in and kept me for the entire time.

I would definitely recommend it to action, espionage and mystery film fans and especial to fans of female protagonist films.

It was very exciting that January 20, 2012, had not only one but two action films with female protagonists that opened here in Toronto. I decided not to choose between them therefore I saw both Haywire & Underworld Awakening.

See also: Haywire DVD review

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I can't wait to watch it again
I'd highly recommend it to fans of action films & female protagonist films

Also see my review of Haywire on Episode 59 of the Movie Moxie Podcast:

© Shannon Ridler, 2012


Dan O. said...

Nice review. This spy flick actually features some great fight scenes and stunt. It is edited right down to the bone and the production is about as slick as anything in recent years. Emotionally, however, it is on the cold side, mainly because of Carano’s stiff-delivery.

Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

Interesting point of view, Dan O, especially about the editing... it didn't quite feel to the bone to me possibly because of the unhurried pace. I actually thought Gina Cararo was great from the perspective of MMA-star turned actor, considering it's only her second film credit and she's in the lead role it's actually leaps and bounds ahead of many other similarly filled roles :)

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