Monday, January 23, 2012
Filled with Star Power, Haywire Provides an Erratic Ride
The plot is basically construed to be a variety of scenes that put Mallory in jeopardy. She's an employee of a secret government agency, an agency that sends people into various exotic locales to retrieve items, shoot bad guys, and free hostages. Haywire starts in the present, with Mallory on the run, and much of the film is arranged in flashbacks showing how the smart agent is in her current dire situation. She gets betrayed by a myriad of people at every turn, and one has to think how this agency has survived as long as it has with all of the double crossing. After a mysterious mission in Barcelona, Mallory isn't even finished unpacking before her boss sends her on another mission, one that is supposed to be a cakewalk. This sets off a chain of events that leaves behind many bloody bodies and bruised faces.
Though--as I stated before--the film is basically a showcase for Gina Carano's fighting skills, what a damn good cast Haywire has. Mallory's ex-boyfriend and the firm's director, Kenneth, is portrayed by Ewan McGregor (who has shown his great range lately in The Ghost Writer and Beginners), clearly relishing his role as a man of power with questionable morals. Mallory and Kenneth have been hired for the dangerous mission by Government agent Coblenz, portrayed by Michael Douglas in his typical charming yet snaky characterization. His contact is Rodrigo, played by Antonio Banderas as a rich man who may be in over his head. Bill Paxton is Mallory's dad, John, the only person she can trust, a man in which every situation is analyzed with a militaristic mentality in his mind. The ever-watchable Michael Fassbender portrays a British agent with an agenda of his own. It's quite amazing that Soderbergh has wrangled in a cast such as this, because many of them are just bit characters who are present to be punching bags instead of a showcase of acting ability.
Is Gina Carano the "next big thing" in female action stars? That's a tougher question. Though she clearly isn't a wonderful actress yet (most of the scenes which involve her in dialogue don't work as well as her giving an ass-kicking), Haywire is a great showcase of her screen presence, stamina, and sexuality. I could see her getting better and better if she decides to pursue a career in acting instead of beating real women to near-death. Though the film has an anorexic-thin story and is basically just a good distraction for a snowy winter afternoon, Haywire succeeds in what it sets out to do: become a top-of-the-line genre action film that puts more stock into style than into substance. (B)