VOD film review: Haywire
Ivan Radford | On 21, Dec 2015
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Cast: Gina Carano, Ewan McGregor, Channing Tatum, Michael Douglas
Watch Haywire online in the UK: Amazon Prime / iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Rakuten TV / Google Play
“Don’t think of her as a woman. That would be a mistake.”
That’s Kenneth’s (McGregor) take on Mallory Kane (Carano), a lady with a lethal streak as blunt as her name. In her first full on-screen role, the MMA star doesn’t so much act as pummel her way through the screen, tearing up everything in her path like a machine with the dial switched firmly to “Kill”. And thighs switched firmly to “Squeeze”.
There is a plot to Haywire, but it’s not worth repeating. Double-crossed by so-and-so, betrayed by wotshisname and sold out by thingumybob, Mallory swiftly wreaks a campaign of bloody revenge – beginning with a brutal smack-down in a coffee shop. (You know a movie’s going to be good when it starts with Channing Tatum getting punched in the face in a cafe.)
Make no mistake: this is standard B-movie fare, but Soderbergh shoots it with A-grade 60s class. Cut to a David Holmes soundtrack, it reeks of retro cool – you can easily imagine him directing a Sean Connery Bond film, if Connery were replaced by a woman with the intensity of a land mine and limbs that would make Xenia Onatopp gasp for breath.
Soderbergh keeps the visuals (and music) calm during the actual punch-ups, putting the focus on Carano’s violent talents. It’s a smart decision that shows the helmer understands how to tackle the punchy-kicky genre. The other benefit of having Soderbergh at the helm is that he brings a good cast with him. As well as Carano’s intimidating presence, Michael Douglas makes for a suitably slippery government official and Bill Paxton is believably devoted as Mallory’s estranged dad. Antonio Banderas, meanwhile, has a lot of fun wearing a great, big, bushy beard.
Michael Fassbender pops up briefly, too, as Mallory’s male counterpart in the film’s standout scene; after some suave pleasantries, the couple collide in a hotel room in a bone-shattering frenzy of broken glass and cracked bookcases.
The question is: is that enough? Does the hard-hitting action make up for the obvious screenplay, even if some of the set pieces suffer from sped-up OHMSS syndrome? With Soderbergh shooting and Carano throwing the punches in under 93 minutes, the answer’s mostly yes. After all, who needs a plot when you can crush Magneto’s face to death with your legs?
Haywire is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.