Tuesday, 1 May 2012

21/04/2012: Haywire [2011]

"They left her no choice", well they left me one, and I unfortunately made the wrong one. What was supposed to be the next big thing in action movies may have been one hell of a stumble, and while I'll throw in the positives, expect a list of reasons why Haywire is one film I won't be recommending.

Now, in case you've been wondering, I do occasionally take up the clipboard and pen when I'm watching a movie and make notes. This is usually when I start having so many thoughts about what I want to say on my review that I know I am going to forget. Also I am writing this review, just after finishing the movie, (although it might be a while before it posts) which usually means it has me uber excited, but unfortunately, I made note on this movie just because I don't think I could ever remember everything that is wrong with it.

First off this movie was built up to be the next big spy movie à la Jason Bourne. Unfortunately Steven Soderbergh pretty much watched Gina Carano in an MMA cage-match, and then decided to build an entire movie around her, which is not the best move. So first, I will give you the few redeeming elements of Haywire, and then I'll bury it under my list of complaints, and some are some major problems.

Yay! Cool MMA fighting moves. To bad I don't watch any of that kinda thing. Maybe they were going for the Inception scene where everything is flipping around in the hotel.
So what was good about this movie. Well it was the first action movie in a while to feature all the actors doing their own stunts. But what would you expect when the lead actress is an MMA fighter, and not an actress? Yes, the action sequences are cool and realistic, but I don't mind the choreographed stuff Hollywood gives me normally, those stuntmen need jobs to.

However, the cast is strangely a very impressive ensemble, if rather wasted. First off we have Channing Tatum, who I think looks like something between Brendan Fraser and Nathan Fillion, of his generation, and who I'm not a big fan of at all. Ewan McGregor also stars in a leading role, and as usual he gives us a great performance, regardless of the movie. Antonio Banderas was probably the biggest surprise for me to see, but he must have owed someone a favour because he is on screen for less than 5 minutes and his talents are rather wasted. At this point I truly think that someone just wanted to fill the movie ads with famous names to compensate for Gina Carano's complete newness to the movie scene.

While the movie looked bleak from the outset, there was one point where I thought the movie might take an turn for the better, and that was when Micheal Fassbender showed his face. Yes, Fassbender has been in every single fucking movie in the last two years now, and yes I'm sure some people are tired of his face. But truly Fassbender is the greatest actor to emerge into the mainstream in the last two years and so I enjoy it anytime he shows up. I must say that his whole appearance is one of the best few scenes in the movie, where I though things where in the upswing before hope was snuffed out in a puff of feathers and a hell of a pillow fight.

The man can still act, even from between the muscled thighs of Gina Carano.
So while yes, this action movie has all those famous actors, all doing their own stunts, that is about all it has going for it, the rest, the key elements of a movie are quite awful. For all those comparing this to Bourne, let me say, at no point do you feel attached to any of the characters, where everything Bourne did, we understood, nothing Mallory does I could truly understand or identify with for a number of reasons.

First the story is just one big bag of clichés from the spy genre. Whole ideas and operations are communicated by the words Barcelona and Dublin in the beginning, we get the slight non-linearity, the on the run spy, the strange unrevealed groups all playing for power. It is all there. But what do you need when you've got a confusing tangle of a story. Good fucking dialogue! Yet, Haywire easily has the worst dialogue I have heard in forever. Barely any full sentences let alone conversations occur the entire movie. How am I supposed to understand anything when you throw around all these ideas and don't explain them?

His face says "Antonio Banderas!" but his eyes say, "How did my agent talk me into this"?
So what is the last redeeming quality Haywire could have. Cinematography, where once again it failed, coupled with a soundtrack, which while interesting, literally doesn't stop playing the entire movie. So the first major action sequence, is played through a mish-mash of camera cuts, different angles and even for some black and white. The latter isn't even consistent, just appearing at random. To accompany this crazy action sequence, and the rest of the movie, is someone turning down almost all background and even foreground sound, and just remixing sound over-top. What kind of action movie doesn't let us hear the explosions, gunshots and yelling. I forgot it even throws in slo-mo, never a good move.

So there you go, a movie that no amount of action sequences, or big name actors could ever hope to save if you can't get the foundation right. A good story, backed by good character development and decent dialogue. At that point I don't care how many clichés you throw in, it could still be good. As  I have stated a few times before, it is rare of me to so greatly dislike a movie, but I knew from the outset I wouldn't like this, even though I went in rather excited. I warn you, if you think this is the next big spy thriller, wait for the Bourne Legacy, it will be undoubtedly better than Haywire.

Haywire IMDb

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