Irish Film Board
Now Showing at: AMC Newport and Esquire
Review by: Larry Thomas
More often than not, people tend to believe the 19th-century quote that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” That doesn’t necessarily hold true, since the author of that line wasn’t privy to seeing endless movie clones, remakes, and rip-offs. In show biz, it should be said, “imitation is the sincerest form of laziness.”
Such is the case with the new film Haywire. It’s your typical 21st century action flick in which a special operative is contracted for an overseas assignment and gets double-crossed by someone higher up. If that sounds like another entry in the Jason Bourne series, you’d be right on the money. There are a few differences however. Gina Carano, a prize-winning mixed-martial artist and kickboxing champion, plays the Bourne-style character in Haywire. You may have seen her on the TV series “American Gladiator.” Acting is a natural extension from such appearances, but she needs to take a few more lessons. There’s also a rumor that the tenor of her voice was altered in the sound mix to make it sound deeper, and I’m surmising, more dangerous. She’s not bad, just inexperienced.
In the case of Haywire, a supporting cast that might be the envy of any leading lady surrounds Carano: Ewan MacGregor, Michael Fassbinder, Bill Paxton, Michael Douglas, and Antonio Banderas. Unfortunately, as good as they are, all the roles are no more than cameos, which gives them very little to do, especially Douglas.
The direction by Steven Soderberg, while stylish and to the point is hampered by lethargic pacing. At a comparatively short 93 minutes, Haywire feels much longer. The overly familiar plot doesn’t help. The confused narrative doesn’t help. In fact, nothing much helps. Soderberg has much acclaim on his resume, from his arty Sex, Lies and Videotape, to his big-budget commercial outings such as Erin Brockovich and the Oceans series with George Clooney. We know from past experience that he can do better.
We are told that Carano’s character is a former Marine, and she learned many of her skills from her father, who was also a Marine. As played by Bill Paxton, he doesn’t convey any sense of bonding or connection with his daughter, or even with the Marines. Some of the action scenes are pretty good, although sometimes confusing, like a lot of the dialogue. It’s difficult to keep all the operatives straight and why they are doing what they’re doing.
The location scenes in Dublin and Brussels are a big plus for the film, giving it a good European feel, but again, just like the Bourne entries.
Haywire is another perfect example of all the good scenes and best lines being in the trailer. It gives the audience too much information, leaving nothing for a surprise. And what’s not in the trailer is likely not there for a reason, as it’s nothing special. For the most part, you might say that Haywire is dull, which is the last descriptive that should be used for a film of this genre. Too bad… from the trailer I was eager to see it. While watching it, I was eager for it to end.
The R-rated Haywire is confusing audiences all over the place.