Thursday, September 13, 2012

Review: Haywire

I just had to opportunity to finally watch Haywire, an action thriller that was released way back in January of this year. I was desperate to catch this film in theaters but unfortunately I was unable to (which happens a lot to me actually. As many films as I was watch a year I still can’t watch everything I want). Why was I so gung-ho to watch this random movie? I was fascinated by the fact that this was wide release film with a very impressive supporting cast of well known actors (including Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, and Channing Tatum for some reason) but the star of the film was a woman who I never heard of. Who was this unknown actress that a studio had enough faith in to bill ahead of all these established stars?

It turns out it was Gina Carano who is not famous for her acting but rather as one of the most well-known female mixed martial artists in the world. Guys, Hollywood went out of their way to recruit a woman who’s major claim to fame was beating the shit out of people (as opposed to an actress they teach how to “stage fight”) to star in an action oriented movie. She’s a full-on lady action hero! None of this “married to the director somehow means action hero” bullshit the Resident Evil movies feed down our throats but rather instead we got a woman who actually looks like she can do the stuff they have her do…because she pretty much can. So anyway bottom line is that this flick will either be really cool or f**king bad.

Full review after the jump.

Pictured: Feminism, mother f@#$er!
Mallory Kane (Carano) is an operative that works for a private firm that performs freelance covert operations with the US government. Following a disastrous mission she finds herself in Upstate New York in a local diner when her former colleague Aaron (Tatum) arrives and asks her to leave with him. She refuses, they fight, and she escapes with a bystander named Scott (Michael Angarano). As they drive Mallory recounts to the kidnapped Scott the events that lead to all this.

My favorite things about this flick are the fight scenes. They are brutal and violent and you can really see why they went with an experienced MMA fighter to star in this. It’s not super gory or all that over the top (for the most part) but it feels like people are actually getting hurt when the punches start flying and I think that’s pretty darn cool. The script is solid; there’s nothing special here nor is there anything that totally stands out as being bad. I did find it a bit hard to follow at times but that may not be the movie’s fault (I may have been slightly distracted at times).

I also like that we get to see a badass lady who actually looks like she knows what she’s doing. Most of the time we have to suffer Milla Jovovich, who looks like a twig, if we wanted to see an ass kicking chick in a lead role (though sometimes we get Angelina Jolie, which is usually okay). It’s refreshing to see something different from someone legitimately dangerous looking.

The acting is, mostly, okay. There are some pretty damn good actors in this cast and they mostly do their jobs, though no one is winning any Oscars for this. Channing Tatum is in this too and he’s as wooden and unconvincing as ever. Seriously guys, why is he so popular right now? You know he’s part of the reason I haven’t gotten to see GI Joe: Retaliation. The studio decided to take it back and insert more Tatum into the film because test audiences apparently were angry by the lack of Tatum. But every movie I’ve ever seen him in, including this one (See? I tied it altogether) he’s really dull and lifeless. I really don’t get his appeal.

Why are you so popular?!
Unfortunately bland and lifeless isn’t the worst way to describe Gina Carano in this movie. When she delivers lines it’s pretty devoid of emotion and a bit stiff. However it’s a) not too bad and b) actually fits the character pretty well anyway. I guess I shouldn’t pull my punches over this, considering I’m usually pretty harsh on models pretending to be actors, so I should point out that this is pretty much what happens when you put a non-actor in a lead role. That said I don’t think she was bad, just not that good, and that she’ll probably improve the more roles she get and I’m willing to give her more chances. Plus how many male action hero can claim to be great actors, especially when they started out?

Of course this isn’t really an action film; it’s an action thriller. The difference is that there’s a hell of a lot more talking in the latter, which brings me to my only real problem with this movie: while the action scenes and the fight scenes are all good it takes so long to get from one to the next that I was bored more than I should have been. It’s pretty much the exact opposite problem you get with big budget summer blockbusters. It wasn’t even that bad it just needed a better balance. Also I don’t know if I actually saw many other women in this movie (except for one lady at the very end). This flick may fail the Bechdel Test rather badly.

This film was neither the awesome roaring rampage of revenge that I hoped it’d be nor was it anything close to be a bad movie. It was a pretty good thriller that wasn’t particularly dumb, which sometimes I feel like that’s the best I can ask for. If you’re curious about Carano as an actress or just was to see a lady kick the shit out of some dudes and look cool doing it you’ll want to check this put as soon as possible. 

Better luck next movie, Gina
I give Haywire 3 Adorable Pandas out of 5.


Pros 

-Strong Female Lead (who is also a badass) 

-Solid script

-Solid outing form the cast 

Cons 

-Some actors aren’t doing as well as others 

-There are simply too many instances of violence not taking place (in-between the violent scenes, of course)

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