‘Haywire’ fitting title for chaotic film

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4 stars

“Haywire” is advertised as a high-octane martial arts action romp with little in the way of storyline to get tangled up in. It features a medley of recognizable male stars (Channing Tatum, Antonio Banderas, Michael Douglas, Ewan McGregor, Bill Paxton and Michael Fassbender), and one not-so-familiar mixed-martial artist by the name of Gina Carano.

As the first scene plays out in a snowy diner, it’s unclear if Carano will be able to hang with her seasoned counterparts, even when Tatum is sitting across from her. That feeling fizzles away as the first fight sequence ambushes the viewer, then Carano’s true ability is revealed through plate shattering and bone-snapping flashes.

Carano initially appears to act reserved with her dialogue and mannerisms, but then her portrayal of the privately contracted espionage vixen Mallory is actually presented accurately once the audience gets to know her character.

Mallory is a former Marine, with a former Marine dad (Bill Paxton); outside of this, little is revealed about her personal life besides co-worker hooks ups. Seeing as how she’s a spy, the mystique surrounding such a deadly woman is fitting. The movie unfolds as a bit of a profile piece about an enigmatic and attractive female who has few lines and lots of pain to deal out after being double-crossed.

Ewan McGregor and Michael Douglas play differing echelons of employment for Mallory, and they bring a level of comforting legitimacy to the film, which would otherwise feel like an old-school martial arts-driven flick from the 90s, which is what it seems inspired by.

Steven Soderbergh directs, and the plotline is appropriate to the title. The cinematography was intriguing and edgy, especially during the chase and fight scenes, and it matched up with the chaotic events of the movie.

Falling somewhere between espionage action thrillers like the “Bourne” trilogy and “Syriana,” “Haywire” has a story which shoots from Barcelona to Dublin between flashbacks, double-crosses, deal-making meetings and a non-linear scene order, which some viewers could lose track of.

“I thought it was hard to follow the plot,” said audience member Bruce Keene. “It went back and forth so much.”

Not everyone was confused, though, and many walked out impressed with Carano.
“The action was good,” said Sally Simmons. “I liked the female heroine; I’m sure she works out.”

The mixture of sophisticated plot, impeccable fight choreography, all balanced with acting talent like Michael Fassbender’s portrayal of a Scottish assassin, or Michael Douglas as a government spook makes “Haywire” a well-executed selection from a genre of the previous decades, when the lead characters were Steven Seagal or Bruce Lee, and the fists made the most cringe-worthy cracks possible when landing home. The only difference here is that the story doesn’t insult the audience’s intelligence.