Trust an auteur like Steven Soderbergh to take a run-of-the-mill spy-thriller story and churn out something refreshing and unexpected. Hes been someone whos never played by the rules and if his first foray into the action genre is something to go by then Im glad he hasnt hope he continues to do so. Those expecting a rerun of the James Bond or Jason Bourne style of filmmaking and shaky-cam action sequences will be in for a huge disappointment; this is a different beast all together, a child of jazz, unabashed brutality and subtlety.
A young woman, Mallory (Gina Carano) walks into a diner only to have an assassin, Aaron (Channing Tatum) walk in and try to accost her away. A fight ensues where other patrons of the diner get involved and Mallory escapes with one of them, Scott (Michael Angarano). As the movie moves into a lengthy flashback we learn about Mallory. Shes an agent working for a private contractor, Kenneth (Ewan McGregor) who gets hired to carry out some of the governments dirty work. After carrying out a job in Barcelona, shes betrayed and now a wanted fugitive on the run, shes desperate to clear her name and extract revenge on those who framed her. Much globetrotting, double-crosses, kicks and punches ensue before the movie reaches its slightly anti-climatic ending.
Soderbergh has an acute visual style which is only accentuated by his understanding of how to play around with the background score. He utilises mundane locations to great effect, giving certain warmth or depth to the imagery that makes the place more real than it might actually appear in the hands of someone else. No shaky camera movements & fast-cut editing means a greater cohesion in the action sequences, but by no means are they any less athletic or brutal than your Bonds or Bournes. Also by employing a jazzy background score to the action sequences, Soderbergh makes them refreshing to watch.
The story on the other hand is run-of-the-mill and only seems convoluted thanks to the disjointed narrative. At an hour and a half running length however, things move at a breakneck pace which unfortunately sacrifices things such as a character or plot development. Things are in shades of far too much absolute at times.
Newcomer Gina Carano has the physicality that is required of her to pull off a part such as this but falters a bit on the emoting end of things. This matters simply because she is in the thick and centre of things through much of the running length. The rest of the cast with high profile names seem a little wasted though each one serves their part amply enough.
Haywire is a not exactly a very smart or thinking mans action flick driven by plot or characters, rather its an interesting example of how the genre doesnt have to stick to clichs when it comes to technical aspects of filmmaking or even how to stage action sequences. Its definitely worth a watch, for something truly refreshing; just dont go in expecting an old-school slam-bang action fest.