Mar 152012


A special ops agent becomes a marked woman after someone double-crosses her. Check out our review of the action/spy flick Haywire after the jump.

MMA star Gina Carano plays special ops agent Mallory Kane, who works for a private company that undertakes various dangerous assignments around the world. After the completion of a job in Barcelona, Mallory suddenly finds herself a hunted woman. It appears that someone has double-crossed her and now the bad guys are out to take her down. Mallory has to run for her life and discover who is behind the betrayal, so that she can take them down before they get to her.


If the plot sounds a little predictable and flimsy, that’s because it is. Haywire is less of a spy-thriller and more of a vehicle for mixed martial arts champion Gina Carano to do her ass-kicking thing – and boy does she do it well. Soderbergh discovered Carano after coming across her competing in a MMA competition on television. She certainly has the moves and takes down male actors twice her size with apparent ease. Carano punches, kicks, run, and jumps her way through the film – she is clearly a very talented fighter.

It’s a pity that her talents as a fighter don’t transfer to her acting. When she is fighting she is incredible, but when she has to talk or “act” she is wooden and lifeless. Her dialogue delivery is awkward and she really doesn’t have enough on-screen presence to hold her own alongside the likes of Michael Fassbender and Channing Tatum.

Carano isn’t the only disappointment in the acting department in this film. Apart from Michael Fassbender (who doesn’t get nearly enough screen-time) it feels like all the other actors ‘phoned in’ for this one. Ewan McGregor, Channing Tatum, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas – they all play  watered down versions of characters they have played before. There is really no life in any of their performances.


While it seems Soderbergh had been aiming for a stripped-back action/thriller flick without all the CGI and complications that usually comes with Hollywood, he has gone too far in the opposite direction here. The story is a simple revenge/double-crossed one that we have seen before done much better. The simply story is “amped up” with loud jazzy music and scenes where our view switches quickly between multiple camera angles. Though he may have been aiming for an Oceans Eleven-type energy with the music and photography, it really falls flat.

This reviewer is particularly disappointed that there wasn’t more than one female with a significant role in this film. Apart from Carano there is only one other female with a [tiny] speaking part, and she is just there for decoration. Despite having a female lead, the film fails to pass the Bechdel Test. There is absolutely no reason why one of the many supporting male characters could not have been a female. I think there was a real missed opportunity here.

Overall, a few fun action scenes aren’t enough to make up for the all-round lack of energy in this film. The story is as flat and lifeless as the cast’s performances. This film is far less than the sum of its parts.

The Facts

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Writer(s): Lem Dobbs
Starring: Gina Carano, Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Channing Tatum
Runtime: 93 minutes
Release date(s): Australia (very limited release): March 15th, 2012; New Zealand: no date set