Haywire [50 New-Old Movies for the 51st Year #5]

Not long ago, I turned 50 years old!  And to add to all the real life goals and challenges that that brings, I’ve created at least one as it relates to movies and this blog–watch a film I’ve never seen before which cam out in each year of my life (thus the “Old-New” terminology), and then write a bit about it.  This is Post #5.  Spoilers ahead.  




Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Release Date:  January 20, 2012
My age then:  41 years old

What it is about:  Mallory Kane is a private black ops mercenary whose mission has gone awry, putting herself in danger.  She realizes that her boss and ex-lover has sold her out for personal gain, and must fight to clear her name of wrong-doing and to protect herself and her loved ones from a series of deadly threats.

Starring Gina Carano as Mallory Kane, with Ewan McGregor as Kenneth (her boss / ex-lover), Bill Paxton as Mallory’s father, and Michael Fassbender and Channing Tatum as people Mallory works with on different missions, Antonia Banderas as one of the people who is putting Mallory in danger, and Michael Douglas as a CIA agent who hires Mallory’s company for the initial mission.

My impressions of this movie before I watched it:  I really didn’t know anything except for the words “Steven Soderbergh”, with whom I associated a number of movies which have had varying levels of success:  Sex, Lies and VideotapeOut of Sight, and the Oceans trilogy Also Erin Brockovich, apparently, but I didn’t remember that was him.

Reality:  The move pretty much met my expectations, at least as far as the Soderbergh influences.  It’s more violent than anything else I’ve watched by him, but it’s got his stylish, energetic flair that keeps things lively and makes even material that might have been pedestrian in the hands of lesser director still a lot of fun to watch.

The story is fairly routine but enjoyable, and the choreography of the action scenes is quite a treat.  Gina Carano is a former mixed martial arts champion, and she brings that skill and strength to the screen in the film’s numerous action set pieces, turning Mallory Kane into one of the most believable female action heroes I’ve seen in a movie.  There are several standout sequences, including an extended foot chase in Barcelona, and brutal fight with Michael Fassbender in a Dublin hotel room.

Carano is an attractive actress but not necessarily an emotionally compelling one, and so we’re kept a bit at arm’s length from any potential depth the story could have.  But the film still works with that by playing into the star’s confidence and athletic grace, as well as keeping her surrounded by a colorful supporting cast.  Michael Fassbender is probably the most interesting figure in his part as one of Kane’s working partners turned would-be murderer, but the film also provides the likes of Michael Douglas and Bill Paxton to give gravity to the proceedings. Combined with the sharp directing and editing, the film is never dull and always entertaining.

So…when you get down to it, what did I think?  Unlike some other films in this blog series, I was able to watch this movie straight through in one evening, and was carried along the entire way.  However, it’s bit too style over substance (even though the style is top-notch) to be truly memorable, and will probably slip away quite soon.

See here for the Master List.


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