I can’t have been the only one a little concerned going into Haywire. Sure Steven Soderbergh is one of our greatest living directors with an experimental flare to rival the European New Wave of cinema, and yes him tackling a full on action film was going to be interesting but he had a lot of ridiculously good-looking star power in supporting roles and a well-known mixed martial artist with no acting experience in the lead.

That, folks, was how we got Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme. Did we really need another action star who couldn’t act but could look kick ass punching people’s teeth in?

No we did not. Thankfully Gina Carano can act. She isn’t given a lot to do acting wise in Haywire but she performs admirably with no trace of the stilted delivery of the aforementioned “actors.” And all of their presence. Every moment she’s on-screen you’re fully aware of how much ass she can kick and how many throats she can rip out.

Sadly she doesn’t rip out any throats in Haywire. The film eschews crowd pleasing over the top action and goes for cut and dry “realistic” action, but it works. Carano is incredibly fast and when her kicks connect people fly. You know it isn’t with aid of wires of CGI. That is just her kicking Michael Fassbender through a door.

The only enhancements you really experience in this film, shot in that unique hand-held indie style that Soderbergh all but created, are in the sound department. I know it might seem odd to praise the sound design of a film, but Haywire‘s sound design is exceptional. From the muted sound of gun shots to the grunts and groans of a fight it is the only sound track this film has. There’s no real music score to speak of. Only the staccato of fists on flesh.

But again, when you have someone as fantastically physically capable as Gina Carano at the center of your film that’s all you need. She’s a sight to behold running, jumping, crawling and fighting. Each scene is just a build up to the next fight and every fight has a purpose rarely seen in action films. The goals of the characters in fights is clearly outline–whether it is to escape or to kill or to silence the characters do exactly what is necessary and nothing more, making them, and the film, a model of restraint.

Which is ironic, because just looking at the cast you wouldn’t think that. While the film is restrained the casting is a showcase in excess. It is brimming with wildly attractive and talented actors. Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Antonio Banderas, Michael Douglas, Michael Angarano and Bill Paxton. These are really good-looking men who at some point have been considered sex icons (or maybe will be at some point in the future).  Oh and Channing Tatum. People like to hate on this dude because of his accent or something. I’m not really sure. Apparently he’s a terrible actor.

This is clearly a lie. Tatum is like if Marky Mark and Keanu Reeves made a baby and that baby could act. And had a dreamy accent and pouty lips and was great in a fight scene.

In Haywire Soderbergh uses Tatum’s accent and image to good use making him some sort of good-hearted frat boy spy that’s attracted to Gina Carano’s but definitely threatened by her talent and her sex. Not that he’s the only one. Many of the characters are threatened by her. She’s the best spy/soldier/black ops operative in the private sector world of spying/soldiering/black ops. But she’s also a woman in a boy’s club. There’s this great undercurrent of sexism to her scenes opposite many of the men in the film. They respect her but they also don’t trust the woman who dared to shatter the glass ceiling of the black ops world.

It’s never clearer then Fassbender, with a glint of excitement in his eyes, purrs “I’ve never done a woman,” and McGregor quickly corrects him, “It would be a mistake to think of her as a woman.”

These are men with deeply held beliefs of male superiority.

And Carano’s Mallory, with the loving acceptance of dad Bill Paxton, schools them on why sexism is wrong by kicking their teeth in, punching them in the backs of the head and generally being one of the best action heroines to ever come along.

There are rumors she might play Wonder Woman? Give it to her. This woman is the new personification of kick ass.

  • Alex Cranz (who is Alex Cranz anyway?) wrote “That, folks, was how we got Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme. Did we really need another action star who couldn’t act but could look kick ass punching people’s teeth in?”

    Cranz, I have been watching Jean-Claude Van Damme’s movies since the early 90’s and he is a brilliant actor as well as a kick@$$ action hero.

    • I’m going to make an assumption here and I’ll hope you can forgive me, you’ve never seen Double Team have you?