We’ve seen this movie before: Secret agent/gun for hire/covert badass gets burned. Who did it? The bad guys? The colleagues? The boss? Our Hero has to work hard and fast to pull his own ass out of a fire not of his making and restore his good name if he can.
Except in Haywire, Our Hero is Our Heroine. This is not completely unprecedented. What is new in this case is how uncompromisingly credible Gina Carano is as “private contractor” Mallory Kane. A former mixed-martial artist, Carano actually looks like she’d be able to, say, beat the holy crap out of Channing Tatum and Michael Fassbender, as she does here. She’s tough, she’s strong, she’s cool and competent, and she’s not rail-thin like Hollywood dictates female movie stars should be.
I like this Mallory Kane chick. And this is Steven Soderbergh! Reteaming with The Limey screenwriter Lem Dobbs, Soderbergh unmistakably set out to make something funky and stylish and exciting and post-national; it’s international intrigue without politics mucking it up.
It all starts off as kickass, as Mallory extracts a Chinese whistleblowing journalist who’s being held hostage in Barcelona. We also know, however, that Barcelona didn’t go down the way it was supposed to, because much of the story unspools in flashback, as Mallory tells her tale to Scott (Michael Angarano), whom she nice-kidnapped from a failed rendezvous with salvation because he had a car, the better to continue running with. (Ha! Another gender switch: The accidental sidekick girl along for the ride is a guy here.)
But it starts to fall apart after Barcelona—not just for Mallory, but for us, too. There’s a lot of fight in Haywire, but very little punch. The humorlessness becomes relentless, and then arduous. A movie called Haywire should have more energy, more exuberance than this.
Gina Carano, Michael Angarano, Channing Tatum