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Movie Review Haywire (2011) main: Gina Carano

Movie Review Haywire (2011) main: Gina Carano

Haywire Poster (2011) Starring Gina Carano

Wired for action, but not as haywire as it could have been.

Okay, okay I admit I did a bad thing by missing this movie when it was in theaters. I’ve watched Gina Carano in many Mixed Martial Arts events and always thought she would translate well in a movie as a kick-ass agent of destruction. We were teased by her cameo appearance in 2009’s B-classic Blood and Bone as a street fighter. Tell me when she gave Isaiah Bone (main: Michael Jai White) her number- you weren’t hoping she’d be seen again.

And so, when a trailer emerges that shows Gina Carano doing the CIA-MMA combat style, you have to get amped. The trailer also showed Michael Douglas so you felt that the good acting was going to be handled by an able veteran. Add Ewan McGregor and Antonio Banderas and you have a can’t-miss bundle. Well it has just arrived on rental and DVD so now I’m getting my chance to see Gina in action.

Plot Ploddings

 

At about the 36 minute mark I realized I had no idea what was going on, why and who any of the characters were. I had to check myself to see if I had checked out and stopped paying attention and missed some clues. No, it’s one of those movies where they leave it blurry and bring it into focus at the very end, which doesn’t quite make sense since the overall plot is as simple as it seemed in the trailer: super agent is double-crossed and sets out on a mission to find out why and at the same time – seek revenge. It doesn’t work to keep us in the dark about something we already knew walking in.

Cut to the chase

Let’s get to the action and choreography since that’s supposed to be the meat of this flick.  In true fanboy service, you will get to see Gina Carano as freelance agent Mallory Kane pull off several bread and butter MMA moves- including the triangle, Muay Thai leg kicks and the superman punch. The only problem is; all the best moments are pretty much shown in the trailers. The early scenes are well edited and frenetic enough to warrant the name haywire, but later they begin to feel like set ups. It’s as if the director looked at the clock and figured it was time for a mini-fight scene and placed the characters in, oh just enough peril to have a quick fight. By the time the climatic confrontation (Which you won’t know is going down until the credits roll) occurs you’ll be hoping you can see something different. Unfortunately the action plays out the same as the first fight and only the quick jump-cuts make the fight seem any different.

Sometimes it feels like I’ve slipped from watching an action movie to watching an action reel meant to prove Gina Carano is a great action-hero fit. We have long shots of her running (for almost no damn reason), which proves she can run and look cool [like James Bond] and we have her in several outfits showing off her curves. She is also allowed to play it sexy, aloof and cool in a few quiet moments. Her action-acting resume is accepted. In much the same style as Hanna (2011 main: Saoirse Ronan) there are several scenes set to music as if we are watching a music video. And that’s another bothersome point. It feels as if director Steven Soderbergh (Ocean’s Eleven, Traffic, Erin Brockovich and Solaris +) was more concerned with getting a cool shot and placing the camera in an interesting place than following any kind of logical course of action for our heroine to take. To his credit, he may be a saving factor because removing those cool camera angles might have left some scenes looking very boring and plain. I mean, she’s jumping over roof tops, but with no real sense of danger and no discernable reason to be doing so. She’s not exactly trapped and the pursuing baddies aren’t even sure where she is. So what’s she doing besides looking awesome?

In the end, I feel the whole is not equal to the sum of its parts. You have many underutilized, bankable actors, a great physical actress and a plot as simple as it gets. Sure there are scenes with creative camera work. Sure there are moments when MMA-lovers can cheer at the screen and call out the techniques being used, but overall this movie represents a first step in what I hope is the budding film career of Gina Carano. I can easily see her as a Bond villainess or arch nemesis in the next Charlie’s Angels. Although our heroine says early in the film that she doesn’t like loose ends, this movie leaves us with a lot of loose ends. Hopefully, action superstar Gina Carano gets a chance to tie them up in her next movie role. Worth renting, not owning. I’m not a movie critic; I’m simply critiquing a movie.

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