Paul – Michael Fassbender
Kenneth – Ewan McGregor
John Kane – Bill Paxton
Aaron – Channing Tatum
Rodrigo – Antonio Banderas
Coblenz – Michael Douglas
As critics, it is often hard to separate Love for a filmmaker from critical analysis of his latest work. This was certainly the case when the Hollywood Foreign Press awarded the Golden Globe for Best Screenplay to Woody Allen’s mediocre “Midnight In Paris” over far better films like “The Help” and “Moneyball”. And today, I am having the same conundrum over Steven Soderbergh’s latest, Haywire.
TGATP is an admitted Soderbergh fan. I loved “Traffic” and his “Ocean’s Eleven” was the rare occasion when the remake was better than the original. However, “Haywire” presents a real dilemma. It doesn’t completely suck since it is Soderbergh. But if it was anyone else, it would completely suck. Like Rodriquez’s “Machete”, its genius may be in its awfulness.
What exactly happens is a bit confusing. The plot gets so convoluted that I will have to see it again to figure out all of the ins and outs. But basically, the story centers around an assassination attempt on spy-for-hire, Mallory Kane (Mixed Martial Arist Gina Garano in her film debut) and her quest to both get to the bottom of her betrayal and exact revenge against the perpetrators.
While I give her an “A” for effort. Carano is robotic and wooden in that way that all athletes from Schwarzenegger to Van Damme, that make the jump to the big screen, are. Unless Carano is fighting, she is just plain awful. She lacks heat even in the sex scene with yummy eye-candy Channing Tatum. But to be fair, most action heroes can’t act. In addition, a star like Angelina Jolie in the role might have distracted from the low-key vibe of the film. Carano’s talent is that she can kick some serious movie ass! If you are a fan of movie fight scenes, Haywire has a series of real doozies and delivers the best female-on-male ass lickings since Doug Liman’s “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”. The rest of the cast – Michael Douglas, Channing Tatum, Michael Fassbender (will I ever be able to look at him the same again after Clooney’s assessment?), Ewan McGregor, and Bill Paxton – are stellar as villans and allies.
Delivering his usual mix of snappy dialogue filmed in multiple exotic locales, Soderbergh describes Haywire as “a Pam Grier movie made by Alfred Hitchcock” and I would agree. With a revenge plot full of holes and cheesy acting from the lead, Haywire does, indeed, feel like an homage to ’70s exploitation films. It is the sort of campy fare that I love. However, it is not for everyone.