REVIEW: Haywire

4 12 2012

There was a decent chunk at the beginning of “Haywire” when I was totally drawn in not by anything in the script or the story … but by Steven Soderbergh’s unique visual sensibilities.  And all of a sudden, it actually begin to sink in that the director actually intends to retire from the craft of cinema and what a loss that could be to the film community.

Soderbergh’s canon of films ranges from the heist films of the “Oceans” series to the zany genre-bending intrigue tale of “The Informant!” to immensely moving biopics like “Erin Brockovich” to hyperlink cinema like “Traffic” to tense thrillers like “Contagion” and even into strange experimentation with whatever the heck “The Girlfriend Experience” was supposed to be.  (Oh, and he also oversaw some movie about magic where Channing Tatum and Matthew McConaughey showed their butts.)

In just this one sequence where the protagonist of “Haywire,” played to dull effect by MMA fighter  non-actress Gina Carano,” escapes from her captors, there are flashes of almost all of his different movies.  They share a similar rhythm and vibe, achieved in a perfect harmony of cinematography, editing, and sound.  It’s truly remarkable that across so many genres and types of filmmaking, something feels like it’s coming from a single mind.

Now just because he has unified conventions doesn’t mean that they always work or redeem an otherwise poor movie.  Such is the case for “Haywire,” an action thriller that does some clever presentation and narrative organizing to brush up a conventional narrative.  Perhaps the medium is the message for Soderbergh, and his mere repackaging of familiar elements is the point in and of itself.  But the film just always feels like an all-too familiar experience.

Soderbergh does succeed in making it slick (for the ladies, he did get the eye candy of Michael Fassbender and Channing Tatum for brief scenes) and subversively political, though.  Yet these victories seem small while watching and seem even smaller in retrospect.  Watch some of Soderbergh’s elegant sequences that have the grace of a ballerina on YouTube some day and skip “Haywire.”  It doesn’t go fully, well, haywire … but there’s got to be some new cinematic voice or story you can use your 90 minutes to hear and see.  C+


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5 responses

5 12 2012
jeffro517

I’ll be honest, this might be one of the worst movies I ever reviewed. Soderbergh might have earned an early retirement after the wasted money spent on this movie. I’ll not be sad to see him go if he doesn’t redeem himself from this self-indulgent poorly conceived film.

5 12 2012
Marshall

I didn’t think it was THAT bad. Sure, it was stale and overdone. But Soderbergh gave it a tad bit of flair that at least made me marvel at how there is such thing as a Soderbergh movie even across so many different genres.

5 12 2012
jeffro517

This movie was one of the only films I’ve ever been mad about spending the money to see. Soderbergh really really failed to bring together anything tangible, and then he wasted the film on a hack actress while ignoring the big names at his disposal. I guess someone likes almost every movie, but this one isn’t one for me.

5 12 2012
Marshall

I can definitely understand that. I didn’t see much of an interesting end product, but I found the film had enough style at the beginning to keep me watching. Not particularly happy that I spent 90 minutes of my life to watch it … yet I’ve seen far worse this year than “Haywire.”

6 12 2012
jeffro517

I’d love to know what 2012 releases disappointed as much as Haywire for you.

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