Thank God there’s a beam of sun shining through the fart cloud of movies released in the first month of the 2012 year.
Like many this last Friday, I unfortunately wasted $8 watching Kate Beckinsale blast more werewolves as I drooled to mindless 3-D in the new “Underworld” film.
To regain my missing brain cells from that garbage, I went back to the theater to indulge in some quality filmmaking and was presented with nothing less.
From his use of organic digital hand-held photography to his outlandish yet genius choice of actors (like casting pornstar Sasha Grey as a Manhattan call girl in “The Girlfriend Experience”), Steven Soderbergh is arguably the most naturalistic filmmaker working today.
“Haywire” could not be a more perfect example of this. Our protagonist Mallory, an unstoppable contract-killer-turned-rogue after being betrayed by her employer, is not portrayed by some A-list star. In fact, she’s not an actress at all, but MMA (mixed martial arts) fighting expert Gina Carano.
Carano’s background as a cage fighter allows her to eat this role alive, making a bad name for most wrestlers-turned-actors (John Cena).
Her dedication to the intense fighting choreography weaves perfectly with her character’s persona, going toe-to-toe with action stars like Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor and Channing Tatum, and beating them to misery. It’s real, plain and simple.
The opening diner scene with a hilarious Tatum pretty much sets the tone for the film; the unexpected brutality of no-mercy espionage, which is relentless throughout the whole 93 minutes.
Mallory is attacked from all corners, at all times and is constantly tested in worse and worse conditions. Dare I say more for a perfectly drawn plot?
Almost. The story has some holes that aren’t filled quickly enough for the audience, which is understandable for a spy thriller, but not for this one. This is a very entertaining movie, not a novel by any means.
The character development lacks in every male role in the film, leaving all eyes on Carano.
Left with this simple platter of sub characters, like Michael Douglas and Antonio Bandaras heading the top of this conspiracy food-chain, it ends up being too much to leave for the very end.
What makes up for it is the artistic blend of beauty versus violence in this sexy thriller with no sex.
Carano and Fassbender’s elegant tango of distrust and cocktails throughout an evening ending in a bloody brawl in a hotel room is priceless.
Fassbender, for that matter, is the textbook definition of a man’s gentleman.
Since “Inglorious Basterds” and “X-Men: First Class,” he’s getting some serious screen time and keeps illustrating better and better characters. An actor who, in my opinion, should have been the new Bond.
The “Kill Bill” and “Laura Croft” franchises may need to step aside for most ass-kicking female in Hollywood.
It’s no-holds barred for Carano. No corny one-liners or jokes about a woman cracking skulls.
Ewan McGregor’s character, Kenneth puts it best, “You shouldn’t think of her as a woman. That’s your first mistake.”
“Haywire” is an exceptional addition to the Steven Soderbergh library, along with films like “Traffic” and “Ocean’s Eleven.”
He has thrived on being natural and first hand with filmmaking, taking audiences of all types into the story at a clausterphobic level.
In the end, that’s really what everyone wants out of a movie.