Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Though this may not be a ground-breaking action movie, Haywire is still quite fun thanks to a decent script and plenty of action.
At roughly 90 minutes, this movie doesn't overstay its welcome and doesn't cut off too short to adequately tell its story. As most action movies should be, Haywire doesn't take too long to to get to the point, and doesn't bore you with endless padding. The characters are never fully developed because of this, but they don't need to be -- they serve their purpose. The action is spaced out nicely throughout the running time, giving the film a very solid pace that isn't hard to keep up with, never too busy or too slow. Finding the right balance of action and story is always difficult for directors to achieve, and though the story is fairly generic and the action isn't particular riveting, the movie works well mostly due to the excellent balance of these two aspects.
One of the things I enjoyed most about this movie is how they didn't make Gina Carano's character impervious to damage. As is not the case in most female-empowering action movies (which this could be considered), the star in this movie isn't an indestructible super-force that can defeat her enemies without even trying. We can believe that it is because of her combat training that she can hold her own in fights, as well as shrug off pain. Instead of winning her fights with brute force, she takes advantage of her agility, using choke-holds and various other strategic fighting moves, something which I personally find more believable than what is usually the case in this type of movie.
But strangely enough, one of my biggest problems with this movie is the action scenes -- a complaint which I believe most viewers will adamantly disagree on. Much of the hand-to-hand combat feels very choreographed and disingenuous, making the outcomes both predictable and somewhat meaningless. Several of the actors didn't seem to know how to make their fight scenes look believable (Carano being the obvious exception), relying heavily on quick cuts and rigorous editing to make their combat seem more authentic. This may satisfy most viewers; I, however, wasn't totally convinced.
Steven Soderbergh has the tendency of casting well-known movie stars in fairly minor roles, and this movie is no exception to that rule. Though none of these roles are unimportant to the story, many of these appearances feel more like cameos used to capitalize on the actors' star power as opposed to serve as actual performances. Though he certainly used this name-dropping less here than in Contagion, I still can't help but to feel this was nothing more than a ploy to cash in on the promise of featuring popular actors. Regardless, they all do well in their roles, so whatever motive there may have been behind it, I can safely say it was justified.
In conclusion, after the disappointing Contagion, it's nice to see Soderbergh back directing something worthwhile. Though this is certainly nothing fantastic or particularly memorable, Haywire still stands as being a better-than-average action movie, with steady pacing and capable performances by the whole cast. I would be surprised if by the end of the year it will stand as being among my favorites, but it was certainly worth watching.