Haywire (Blu-ray) (2011)
R Dir: Steven Soderbergh | Lionsgate | 1h 33min

Review By: Matt Brighton | April 27th, 2012

Plot: What’s it about?

I’ve been a fan of Steven Soderbergh’s films since 1989’s Sex, Lies and Videotape. His style is unique (or was) and he went more mainstream in the late 90’s with movies like Out of Sight, Erin Brockovich and his Oscar-winning Traffic. Of course he’s probably best known for the Ocean’s trilogy of movies that were both commercially and critically-acclaimed (well, the first one was). Still, I have to admire an Academy Award winning director that stays true to his roots and over the past decade Soderbergh has stayed mainstream, while giving us some independent films like The Girlfriend Experience starring adult film star Sasha Grey. Last fall’s Contaigon showed that he still had what it took to make an entertaining movie and with his latest effort, Haywire he’s got another female protagonist as the lead. Will it work and can the ensemble cast (which he’s known for) pull it off?

Mallory Kane (Gina Carano) does things that governments don’t want to know about. She’s good at what she does, and after a mission to rescue a hostage in Barcelona, she’s sent to Dublin. Things don’t exactly work out in Dublin and she’s then sent fleeing for her life while explaining her story to her “hostage.” As is consistent in the world of movie espionage, it seems that no one can be trusted and those who you thought were your friends are actually out to slice your throat. Not fun. Mallory needs to use every bit of her training to outwit and outsmart those, namely Paul (Michael Fassbender). Of course she’s got to avoid all of the pratfalls of agents trying to kill her, make it back into the United States, protect her friends and family and the coup d’etat is that she needs to get revenge for those and attempted to betray her to begin with. But…can she?

Admittedly, this isn’t Steven Soderbergh’s greatest film. It’s not bad, but it feels like a hybrid of so many other films in which the female lead must overcome enormous odds to achieve the goal. Yes, I’m talking about recent movies like Salt and Columbiana. Maybe those are unfair comparisons, but it’s what came to mind. As usual, the supporting cast is filled with a who’s who of movie stars including current “it” men Michael Fassbender and Channing Tatum who seem to be in every other movie as of late. The main problem with the movie, and this is consistent with what others have said, is the main star – Gina Carano. Careno isn’t the worst actress, but she’s clearly no Meryl Streep. There’s no denying that she’s a very physical actress and evidently she did all of her own stunts. However it’s easier to teach a good actress how to do stunts as opposed to vice-versa. If you’re in the mood for a good Steven Soderbergh film, I’d advise you to look elsewhere as this one was just too predictable for my taste.

Video: How does it look?

The 2.40:1 AVC HD image looks great and it does have Soderbergh’s signature all over it. For those that have seen Traffic you’ll recognize that some of the various sequences seem to have a certain hue associated with them. The scenes in Dublin seem to have a very bluish tint to them, the government has a yellowish tint and those in Barcelona have a very warm feel to them. Soderbergh uses a lot of natural light and hues which give the film a more “realistic” look and feel, but sometimes it seems to drown out some of the definition to some key scenes. As a result this might seem to have a more inconsistent feel to it as opposed to the “artsy” look that I’m sure he was going for.

Audio: How does it sound?

There are a lot of times when Haywire could have sounded really good, but they weren’t taken advantage of. I’m speaking of a shootout in Barcelona, but the sounds were intentionally muffled. This is both good and bad in that it’s different, yet it doesn’t make full use of the surround sound. Vocals take front and center and though surrounds aren’t utilized as much as I’d like, they do kick in at times to give some added ambiance. There’s a jazzy score that plays nearly throughout and while interesting at times, it does tend to get a bit old. Soderbergh’s films aren’t notorious for having “in your face” soundtracks and this is no exception.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This movie didn’t exactly light up the box office and Lionsgate has included a few supplements here, but they’re mainly filler. We start off with “The Men of Haywire” in which the supporting cast is focused on. Bill Paxton, Michael Douglas, Ewan McGregor, Antonio Banderas, Channing Tatum and Michael Fassbender are all spotlighted. Next up is “Gina Carano in Training” which shows the extreme that Carano went through to physically do the part. Impressive, though as noted she might have benefitted from some acting lessons as well.

Disc Features
  • (2.40:1) Aspect Ratio
  • Video Codec: AVC
  • Audio: DTS HD Master
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Audio Commentary
  • Deleted Scene(s)
  • Featurette
  • Documentary
  • Digital Copy
  • 1 Disc Set
Haywire (Blu-ray)