I Haven’t Closed My Eyes Since You Were Born
Against my better judgment, I’ve been super interested in seeing today’s movie since I first heard about it. It’s the screen debut of an MMA fighter that I’m a fan of along with a pretty spectacular supporting cast. But, even though I felt like I really wanted to see it, something always held me back. I’m not sure if I was afraid of seeing a movie with this fighter in it because I expected that person to not be able to act or if there was just never a good time to do it. When I was in Arizona a few months back, I occupied myself by going to the movie theater frequently. This movie was still in the theater there at the time, but the one or two shows it had did not align with the times I would be able to see it. The time to see it in theaters had passed, so I set my sights on its RedBox release. It came out on DVD and at RedBox on the same day, and the first thing I did was put it on reserve. The time has finally come for my review of Haywire, written by Lem Dobbs, directed by Steven Soderbergh, and starring Gina Carano, Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Channing Tatum, Bill Paxton, Michael Fassbender, Michael Angarano and Anthony Brandon Wong.
Mallory Kane (Gina Carano) is a mercenary of sorts that works for Kenneth (Ewan McGregor), who is also her former boyfriend. She goes out on a successful mission to rescue a hostage named Jiang (Anthony Brandon Wong) along with another member of the private firm she works for named Aaron (Channing Tatum). When Mallory returns home, Kenneth asks her to take a quick and easy assignment to pose as the wife of MI6 agent Paul (Michael Fassbender) on a stakeout. At the party, Mallory sees Paul talking with his contact before entering a barn. Later, she checks out the barn to find Jiang dead. Mallory realizes that she’s been set up. When they return to their hotel room, Paul attacks Mallory. She whips that ass and kills him. She then uses his cell phone to find out that Kenneth was the one that told Paul to kill her. Mallory sets off to find out why she was set up, and make the ones who did it pay.
What a bummer. I went into this movie with the expectation that Carano would not be able to hold up her end of the acting, but would make for some awesome fight scenes. What I didn’t expect was that the only real problem I had with this movie would be completely at the fault of the director. I found myself extremely annoyed with how slow this movie moved. It was a complete artsy fartsy movie. You may recall my complaints sounding similar in my review of the Ang Lee Hulk movie. It seemed to me as if the director was really concerned about getting some interesting and stylized looks and camera angles, and not really concerned with making a movie that was interesting. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind my action movies having a nice artistic style. But what an action movie needs above all that is pacing. This movie chose to show boring and uneventful scenes in real time, as if I was watching a boring episode of 24. During a chase scene on foot, the director uses footage of Carano running down an alley in a straight line for a good 30 seconds. You can have really long foot chase scenes if you throw in a lot of things to break up the simple running, like jumping over cars or fences. But when you just show me a lady running in a straight line I get to feeling like I’m watching track and field at the Olympics. He also shows us about 10 minutes of Carano and Fassbender getting dressed for the party they’re going to and inspecting all their equipment. I will take your word for it if you tell me these people are pros, so you don’t need to show me them inspecting their equipment. I will also jump to the conclusion that they got dressed when they show up to the party with clothing on. Later on, we get a long, drawn out scene of Carano walking down the street occasionally looking over to check that a guy is following her. This goes on for like 5 minutes before it turns into a pretty boring chase scene. I got to feeling like the director was doing all of these time wasting and boring things because he finished his movie and realized it was only 40 minutes long. And, since it would make less money if they just put that version on TV, making it a full hour with commercials, he just decided to hit ‘Undo’ on all of the cuts that he made.
The action, when it happened, was very satisfying to me. It was like watching an MMA fight, but in a more practical way because it was in a real life setting with no rules and some weapons in the mix. But I like watching MMA, so I liked watching these fights too. The fights smashed the hell out of the environments too. The bulk of them were a little brief for my tastes, though. The fight between Carano and Fassbender was particularly exciting, lasting for a pretty good stretch of fighting, using and destroying the environment. The problem with this scene is that it probably would’ve been more impactful to see Fassbender attack Carano out of nowhere had they not spoiled it in every trailer I saw for the movie.
I had no complaints about the performances in this movie. I would’ve assumed that Gina Carano wouldn’t have been that good of an actress, but I felt like she did good. Some of the dialogue in the earlier scenes was a little flat, but I was more distracted by the fact that the dialogue was happening in scenes I had no reason to be watching to pay much attention to her performance. Carano is a solid, good-looking woman, but never really made that much out of her looks in the movie. She was there to whip ass, and she did. I found it a little bit jarring at first to see fight scenes between a guy and a girl where neither one was holding back at all, but it would be ill-informed to hold back because Carano was a woman. She’s a nearly undefeated MMA fighter! Also, even though it was just made as a snide comment in the movie, I would completely endorse Carano to play Wonder Woman if they make a movie out of that. It was surprising to me how many huge names they were able to get into this movie to support Carano, but all of the performances were fairly low key and didn’t give me much to talk about.
Haywire had the potential to be a solid action flick, but the director turned it into a stylized bore. The action was great, but often too short and spread out too far. The cast was fantastic, and Carano (though not fantastic) did manage to impress me for her first film. This movie would’ve been fantastic if they had only edited about 40 minutes of boring scenes we didn’t need to see out of it. As it is, I say you can skip it. I look forward to seeing Carano in better action movies in the future, though. Haywire gets “Bummer” out of “You shouldn’t think of her as being a woman. That would be your first mistake.”
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