This is how you direct action sequences.
Haywire by Steven Soderbergh
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Blurb: Freelance covert operative Mallory Kane (Gina Carano) is hired out by her handler (Ewan McGregor) to various global entities to perform jobs which governments can't authorize and heads of state would rather not know about. After a mission to rescue a hostage in Barcelona, Mallory is quickly dispatched on another mission to Dublin. When the operation goes awry and Mallory finds she has been double crossed, she needs to use all of her skills, tricks and abilities to escape an international manhunt, make it back to the United States, protect her family, and exact revenge on those that have betrayed her.
Thoughts: Joe Wright, are you paying attention? For future reference and to avoid a repeat of your awful cliche ridden performance with Hanna, please invite Mr Soderbergh to educate you.
This was a strange movie, a mash up of The Limey and Oceans Twelve featuring a non-actor in the lead role as an action heroine. And surprisingly it mostly works.
In lesser hands this would have been a weak movie devoid of interest but as always Soderbergh has more ability to tell an entertaining story in a cinematic way in his little finger than most directors in their whole body.
There's an issue with regards to the actual plot and the sequencing of events, part of the fault has to lay (and it pains me to say it) with screenwriter Lem Dobbs writing his first movie since The Limey and the other is the artistic way Soderbergh chose to shoot and cut it together. There are long slow passages (ordinarily fine) combined with some strange use of a jazz score which fail to sustain your interest when you add a lead character with all the personality of David Beckham.
That's not to criticise MMA fighting champion and American Gladiator Gina Carano too much, she was very good when not required to speak and the way she (and her stunt company) incorporated her MMA fighting skills in to the closer to real life situations in the movie was fantastic - no need to suspend disbelief in an action movie for once! - and as mentioned before, it was shot fantastically by Soderbergh.
The whole movie is a visual treat infact, with several sequences serving as pure pleasure causing me to exclaim wildly as they reached a crescendo - Soderbergh was clearly having a lot of fun with this one and gives a masterclass in how to put a scene together both in front of the camera and in the edit.
OK, so this review has basically functioned as a shameless fan boy praise session for Steven Soderbergh, I can't deny it. Here's my disclaimer, if you don't like his more personal work then you probably won't like this movie. If however you thought Oceans Twelve was the best of the trilogy I think you'll get what he was doing here and have a great time.
I'd also draw comparison in style and approach towards the genre, even the tone and mood at times, with the recent Jim Jarmusch "thriller" The Limits of Control. Two great directors doing really interesting things in American cinema with tired old genre staples.
I've completely ignored the fact that Bill Paxton was at his least annoying in this movie, Michael Angarano was his usual very good self, Antonio Banderas looked like Saddam Hussein,
The Hunter by Richard Stark
Queenpin by Megan Abbott
Fatale by Jean-Patrick Manchette
The Limits of Control
Le Cercle Rouge