Yesterday I watched Haywire. And I really enjoyed it.
But upon perusing the comments section of IMDB I was overwhelmed by the sheer amount of negative criticism the film had, outweighing its praise. I couldn’t understand it. Could it be that filmgoers at large aren’t ready for this kind of film? Not really to do with the story or subject matter of the film but more with HOW it was all put together - the delivery.
The story is told in a non-linear fashion, the pacing is not always constant, the music stands out and is not your usual action movie score – many things I considered to be fresh about the film, a lot of people saw as detracting from the experience.
I think the main reason for this is to do with both audience expectations of the genre and, more crucially, the studio’s marketing of films such as this. Watching the trailer (need I remind you that you probably shouldn't do that if you want to get the most enjoyment out of the movie), you will probably be led to believe that this is a no holds barred, high octane, action thriller with non-stop fighting, shooting and car chases throughout.
Sure, there are fights and chases here and there, but the pacing is very different than is portrayed in the trailer – with much of the film focusing on spying activities, scenes of tense paranoia and also showing some of the inner dealings of the special operative 'contracting’ services. Whether influenced by the trailer or no – I think people were just expecting something very different. This is more of a spy thriller than an all out action movie at the end of the day.
The key here lies in director Steven Soderbergh. You know he is not really one to adhere to strict formula and convention. Stylistically, this film has more common with some of his older films such as Out of Sight and The Limey. He directs with a realistic yet stylised fashion – one long chase scene in the middle of the film starts masterfully from a tense scene drenched in paranoia just by having the camera follow someone down the street – the power of suggestion coming into play heavily here.
The fight scenes also definitely need to be talked about to. Outside of the recently reviewed The Raid, the fight scenes, especially the ‘hotel room’ scrap, will have you slack-jawed at its realistic brutality and efficiency with which it is carried out. Star Gina Carano is the real deal, being totally believable in the role physically. Acting wise she is not bad and although her inexperience does show through occasionally, she embodies the role of Mallory Kane perfectly.
From vicious hellcat to agent on the run, to dressing up with Bondian suave alongside Michael Fassbender, this film shows off her versatility.
The music, which some found out of place in the film, is courtesy of Dj/producer and long time Soderbergh collaborator David Holmes – which I felt added a breath of fresh air compared to the usual action movie tropes – recalling old school blaxploitation funk of the 70s and spy thriller themes from the 60s. I thought it fitted brilliantly, and yet so many people felt the need to complain about it.
On a final note, concerning the complicated plot – that's kind of the point – it was supposed to be complicated. As well as the whole thing being a mystery for the main character to solve, her explaining everything that has happened to her terrified passenger (a proxy for the audience – as we too are 'along for the ride' so to speak) it becomes a bit of gag as to how convoluted the events can be - the passenger is constantly reminded of names and who did what, so that he can relay the information to the authorities at a later time.
Anyhow, I would recommend Haywire – even just to witness Gina Carano’s performance (if there is any justice in the world they would make a proper Wonder Woman film with her). Just bear in mind that the film may be a little different from what you may expect it to be like - mostly due to preconceptions of the genre or how the trailer markets the film.
Best bet – go into it blind. You will enjoy it a lot more!
25 May 2012