Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Haywire (2011)

Basically a Bourne-lite, except Jason Bourne is a woman and the reason she's on the run from spies and hitmen is even more convoluted*.

A fun action-thriller that really delivers on the action part of the equation, Haywire's got some great fight and chase scenes in particular. Soderbergh's direction creates a lot of extended medium shots of the action, giving a refreshing coherence that's becoming less common in these types of films. For once, thanks to the lack of constant cutting and ridiculous closeups, you can actually see what's going on in a fight: who's hitting who, where they're hitting them and, most importantly, who's actually winning.

There is, of course, another reason the action works so well. You'd be forgiven for not having any idea who Gina Carano, in the leading role, is but if there is one thing you should know about her, it's that this girl can fight, no question. She might not be the best actress, but to be fair she's not exactly working with the best script or narrative either. Carano delivers as the fighting heroine though, which is pretty much all Haywire requires of her.

The rest of the cast feel relatively underutilised, especially considering who some of them are. Ewan McGregor gets a significant amount of screentime, but the likes of Fassbender, Tatum and Banderas are only on screen when they absolutely have to. Even then it's often confusing as to who's who and why they are doing what they are. 

But none of that really matters. Once you've got the main characters nailed down (something that's actually cleverly pointed out to the audience early on) and established who the bad guy is, Haywire's just a beautifully shot collection of globe trotting and ass kicking. As I've already gushed over, the fighting is visceral and believable thanks to the shooting style, but the film's visually interesting in other a number of avenues: a quickly escalating chase sequence through the streets and rooftops of Dublin in particular looks fantastic.

You could watch Haywire with your brain set in high functioning, spy-thriller-untangling mode but it's much more enjoyable to just sit back and roll with it. You're much more likely to appreciate what actually makes it worth your time that way at least.

* I've only just thought of a more apt comparison, but it's 1am so forget rewriting that part. It's not so much a Bourne-lite, but a watchable alternative to Salt.

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