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'Haywire' review - A superb action film that's destined to be a cult classic

Have you ever seen a classic Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee movie? Remember the surprising speed and spontaneity of the fights Lee or Chan would have? When those men fought, you could feel the pain. Haywire’s Gina Carano exudes the kind of authenticity of the great action stars of old. And she should, being an actual award-winning mixed martial artist. Thanks to an adept script by Lem Dobbs (The Score) and creative directing by Steven Soderbergh (Ocean’s Eleven), Haywire might be the grittiest action thriller since Taken

The story doesn’t matter much, but unlike a lot of action movies, it is simple and well-written. Like The Matador, this is another story about the plight of burned out assassin. Mallory (Gina Carano) is one of the best hired assassins around, but on the eve of her retirement she gets caught up in a huge mess and must use all her skills to survive and figure out who are her enemies and who are her friends. 

You couldn’t have picked a better woman for the job. When it comes to sluething and killing, Mallory doesn’t mess around. She is vigilant, no nonsense, and loyal. Everything she says is something that needs saying and she doesn’t take breaks for leisurely walks in the park. We learn much of her story as she tells it to a man she met at a coffee shop far away from the Barcelona job that went foul. 

What makes this movie work is the action. It’s brutal, but not gory. Time and again, Mallory is forced to fight, and every battle is fast and furious, but painfully real. She gets thrown into walls and has to beat people down time and again. Unlike most action movies, she doesn’t suddenly become badass thanks to some Hollywood magic (think Angelina Jolie), she slowly earns our respect as the picture goes on by taking the hits and making solid decisions when she’s out of time. At one point we watch her flee from authorities on the streets and inside a building. She gets so close to capture multiple times, but smartly figures out new ways to escape entire squads of men hunting her. We see the entire escape and all of these battles in real time—the whole thing.

Director Steven Soderbergh layers in a bunch of classic 60s and 70s spy grooves as well. Much like a film like Layer Cake, much of the film has no talking. We watch Mallory do her thing and we fear for those in her way. Soderbergh managed to bring on an amazing supporting cast. Channing Tatum, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Ewan McGregor, Anthony Brandon Wong, and Michael Fassbender all help lend credibility to Gina Carano’s debut starring performance. I don’t believe Carano will be winning any Oscars in the near future, but she works well in a role like this. She is comfortable and authentic. If Soderbergh had made her deliver a bunch of monologues, this film may not have worked. She tends to look different in every new outfit we see her in. Like a Lady Gaga of the assassin world, when she is in disguise, she can even fool the audience for a second. 

Haywire is one of those movies that may not do particularly well at the box office, but will undoubtedly build a cult following in the years ahead. Like Layer Cake, Taken, The American, or Boondock Saints, it’s a genre film that works because it’s so much more unique than action flicks of late, like Abduction with Taylor Lautner. There isn’t a single explosion in Haywire. Not one. Why? Because the script didn’t need one. This movie is badass and Gina Carano has a violent onscreen career ahead of her. 

Rating:  (Awesome)

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