Haywire? Relax Steven, It’s Worse Than You Think

'hā-'wī(-ə)r (adv or adj): being out of order or having gone wrong

2011 haywire 002 Haywire? Relax Steven, Its Worse Than You Think

Carano. (Claudette Barius/Five Continents Imports, LLC)

Just what we need — another violent comic-book fantasy about another covert government operative (a catch-phrase that describes just about everybody in escapist-action franchise movies from incoherent Tom Cruise Mission Impossible flicks to Jason Bourne cinematic Xeroxes with Matt Damon). This one is called Haywire. The only difference is that this time the battering ram doing all the kickboxing, slicing and killing is a woman, more or less played, since she cannot act, by kung fu expert, karate specialist, martial arts star and Angelina Jolie wannabe Gina Carano. She’s a female boxer who was defeated in 2009 by Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos in the Strikeforce Women’s Championship, whatever that is. The men she beats the crap out of are an all-star bevy of camera-ready hunks baring their pecs in faceless roles to sell tickets. They are wasting their time, but, boy, do we need them. It is doubtful that the box-office flame exuded by Ms. Carano on her own could draw moths.

Haywire makes no sense whatsoever, which should come as no surprise. It’s the latest brainless exercise in self-indulgence from Steven Soderbergh, whose films rarely make any sense anyway. (I liked Erin Brockovitch, but I now think it was a fluke that will never come again.) Any director who wastes valuable time watching female boxing instead of learning how to make better movies has lost me already. In the opening scene, Channing Tatum walks into a roadside diner in upstate New York and smacks the living daylights out of a woman named Mallory Kane, played by Ms. Carano with more muscles than charm. Naturally, she turns the tables and leaves him unconscious, steals a car belonging to a mind-blown young man named Scott (Michael Angarano), and drives away. Screeching and careering through the snow, she relates everything that happened to her as Scott works hard to keep from screaming before he’s excised from the movie and never seen again. Cut to Washington, D.C., where the overexposed Ewan McGregor is instructed by boss Michael Douglas to eliminate the two-fisted Mallory. Flashback even further to Barcelona, where she and Mr. Tatum were once lovers on a hostage-rescue mission, before she discovered she was marked for assassination. In Dublin, while tracking down a Chinese nationalist, she poses as the wife of another secret agent, played with typical out-of-the-shower, tight-towel nakedness by gym-pumped Michael Fassbender, but instead of taking her to bed he tries to take her out. In retaliation, she chokes him with thighs like sandbags during Hurricane Katrina and fires a bullet through his handsome head. Trying to figure out why she’s been betrayed in an interminable series of splat-crack-pow scenes, she turns into a rogue agent and goes viral, throwing herself off rooftops, smashing through plate-glass windows, leaping from one building to another, bouncing off walls and kicking a lot of groins. It all ends up back in the present, at the elegant New Mexico home of her father, a former Marine turned best-selling author, curiously played by the sturdy and dependable Bill Paxton, who is very good, very brief and very much reduced to the status of a walk-on. Surprise! The anonymous killers and thugs show up, and there’s more fighting to come as she demolishes a lot of beautiful furniture and marvelous architecture, heading for one last showdown with one final master criminal (Antonio Banderas, unrecognizable behind a bushy mouse-gray beard). One can only wonder what Mr. Soderbergh paid so many first-cabin alpha males to make fools of themselves in this piece of junk.

The leap-frog settings across two continents are more eloquent than anything in the dumb, sophomoric script by Lem Dobbs, who also wrote the screenplay for Mr. Soderbergh’s pretentious and unwatchable Kafka. You realize early that nobody connected with Haywire has any interest in coherent narrative filmmaking. The movie is nothing more than a locker-room joke. Nothing resembling plot, character development or a star-making career move of any kind is anywhere apparent. The whole point of this time-wasting farrago of idiocy is that women can cut, kick, slash, burn, maim and kill just like men—and make bad movies that are just as stupid. Mr. Soderbergh doesn’t even try to guide his unknown, inexperienced leading lady from the fight ring to the acting arena. He just cranks up the camera and lets her punch herself catatonic. Maybe it’s the role she’s playing, but Gina Carano has all the charisma of a Sherman tank.

rreed@observer.com

HAYWIRE

Running Time 93 minutes

Written by Lem Dobbs

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Starring Gina Carano, Ewan McGregor and Michael Fassbender

1/4

Comments

  1. Superbodypart says:

    Loved Gina Carano. Highly disappointed with the skeleton story line. Your need a story to go with Carano (Mallory Kane)  kicking butt for 93 minutes. I felt like I saw Part I “Hay” and needed to see Part II for the “Wire”. Please tell me Mr. Soderbergh that you have a sequel to the rest of this great idea.

  2. JTT says:

    I’m curious, has this writer ever given a positive review to an action movie?  He clearly just hates the genre.  An overwhelming majority of other critics have a polar opposite view of the movie.   Mr. Reed also makes himself seem like a naive fool here too.  What exactly did he think he was sitting down to look at?  If he’s unable to sit down and view/judge a film based on what it is and what it’s trying to be maybe it’s time to find another job.  Most other critics say the beauty of “Haywire” is that it makes no attempt to pass itself off as anything other what it is and that it’s a effective at what it’s trying to do, which is entertain people who like this sort of thing.  It’s too bad this particular critic seems to be much more pretentious than the film.  Stick to reviewing genres you enjoy.  You’ll be happier and the readers will get a more honest and open-minded viewpoint.

  3. Anonymous says:

    You did absolutely zero research! You are a wannabe journalist who apparently has tremendous envy for those who can do the things your fat lazy ass can’t. Sounds harsh doesn’t it? Just like you. Go fuck yourself. I sure hope you do not refer to yourself as a Journalist. A fucking Hack is all you are.

  4. kbonez says:

    Did you mean “careening”?  I certainly hope that the main character wasn’t “screeching and pursuing her occupation as a lifework through the snow”.  That would just be silly.

    1. kbonez says:

      PS- what’s the point of bringing up the fact that she lost some strikeforce championship a few years ago if you’re just going to point out that you don’t know what that is?  Saying that she was a mixed martial artist would have been sufficient to educate your audience (you don’t hear people introduce Charles Barkley to people who are unfamiliar with basketball as “a professional basketball player who lost in the NBA Finals in the 1990s”).  Taking the time to learn what she did as a martial artist only points out that you believe that the time that the research took was a waste.  Guess what?  I could’ve figured out that you waste a lot of your own time just by reading the ridiculousness of your review (and I say that as someone who a) hasn’t seen this movie, and b) HATES Soderbergh’s works).  Lastly, were her thighs overwhelmed by Fassbender’s neck muscles?  Cause if not, then the comparison to sandbags during that specific hurricane was pretty stupid.  Again, I haven’t seen the movie yet, so that may be what happened, but if you’re just saying that she’s got muscular thighs then I agree with the earlier comment by HaVoK308.

    2. jwright40 says:

      Just fyi, “careering” is used correctly here. Google it and this definition is provided:  
      Move swiftly and in an uncontrolled way in a specified direction: “the car careered across the road and went through a hedge”.

  5. kbonez says:

    Did you mean “careening”?  I certainly hope that the main character wasn’t “screeching and pursuing her occupation as a lifework through the snow”.  That would just be silly.

  6. walter says:

    So you think skeletal Jolie(Ah..her stunt double) is really believable in these “butt kicking”rolls?Or maybe  Beckinsale in those ridiculously cartoonish unwatchable Underworld messes that will not die?You must really be jaded by the CGI and pyrotechnics at this point.Considering this is Miss Carano’s first role You are quick to dismiss her.Quite frankly I believe she would be a shoo in for the upcoming role as Wonderwoman..Hell!she is wonderwoman!

    1. L. S. Kincaid says:

      Carano as Wonderwoman would be awesome as long as Soderbergh has nothing to do with it. And please let her use her real voice this time?

  7. David Leach says:

    Your main beef seems to be with Steven Soderbergh, your evident loathing of the man appears to have coloured your review and the fact you can’t get beyond that or the fact that Gina fought as a mixed martialist makes your comments about the film itself totally redundant. I don’t seem to remember you describing other actors in a similar vein – Brad Pitt,  ‘formerly day time soap star’ or Charlie Theron, ‘catwalk model’. you also seem to consider it fair game to reveal plot details in your review another very mean spirited approach.
    Perhaps in the future you might consider leaving your prejudices at home when you next review a film and try and do it on the film’s merits alone.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Yay! I always love a good Rex Reed Rant. I’ll probably enjoy the film. I hated War Horse.

  9. I FULLY agree with this review!!!!!! We walked out of this low grade brainless movie after giving it an hour of our time. No dialog, just some chick karate chopping everyone in sight and flipping off of walls after low kicking, high kicking, fake punch here fake punch there (and no one bleeds) WHAT A WASTE OF OUR TIME AND MONEY! Big thumb down :(

    1. Anonymous says:

      “… just some chick karate chopping everyone in sight and flipping off of walls after low kicking, high kicking, fake punch here fake punch there …”
      Not getting your point. What kind of movie did you think this was, beforehand? You couldn’t tell this from any of the trailers?

    2. L. S. Kincaid says:

      I sat through the entire thing, bored out of my mind because they kept interrupting incredibly well choreographed fight scenes with bad dialogue, excruciatingly long shots of her walking or staring off into space for no reason, and a transparent plot of Avatar like proportions. I would have much rather watched the movie that you claim to have walked out on.

  10. voltron says:

    “It is doubtful that the box-office flame exuded by Ms. Carano on her own could draw moths.” so how much is an actor EXPECTED to draw in their first ever movie?
    As for the “thighs like sandbags” line, what a juvenile cheap shot that was.  What, she’s not “skinny” and anorexic enough for you?  Thanks for keeping women in their place, stupid, silent, and skinny.  Rex Reed, you are old and WAY past your time.  Go back to the 90’s when you were a blip on the minorly relevant scale.

  11. crack head says:

    Just because of this ass hats review i will most def see this .film

  12. Blah says:

    “Angelina Jolie wannabe”?  Could a critic– or anyone, really– craft a sentiment that does a better job of mischaracterization?  Rex, you are so far off I could only shake my head in disbelief.  Is there a woman on earth who has done a better job of being her own person, and trailblazing her way in the opposite direction of Angelia Jolie? 
    Incedentally, for your information, the Strikeforce Women’s Championship (and that is not its proper name) is the most prestigious decoration for a female fighter in the world.
    And to round out your trifecta of credibility-destroying misconceptions, Ms. Carano is neither a kung-fu nor a karate artist.  She is a muay-Thai specialist, and yes, such a distinction matters.  It matters to the majority of potential viewers of this movie, it no doubt matters to Ms. Carano, and it should matter to you.  The fact that is doesn’t, and that you couldn’t be bothered to 1) do one iota of research and 2) review this movie in its proper context detracts from your own value as a film critic.  Congratulations on shitting out the film critic equivalent of a straight-to-video C-movie..

  13. Anonymous says:

    Ed Wood in his prime could not have made a movie as bad as Haywire.  After this movie had mercifully ended, I stayed for the closing credits hoping to learn the identity of Gina Carano’s ventriloquist who did a fantastic job in spite of having nothing to work with.   Why are so many film critics raving about this drab and boring movie?  I often disagree with Rex Reed’s reviews, but I certainly respect his honesty and integrety. And in the case of Haywire Reed nailed it perfectly.

  14. Shane Pye says:

    How nice and enlightened of you to totally denigrate female sports.  Also indicative of how “enlightened” you are are the instances where you deteriorate from critiquing Carano’s acting ability to just slapping her with personal insults that have nothing to do with the movie or the review.  I get the strong impression that you have a strong dislike of athletes stemming from your public school days when they probably pulled your underwear over your head and shoved you into your locker on a regular basis, or maybe you just think that any job or career requiring physical exertion is beneath “intelligent” people.  How can you look down on any career choice when you write movie reviews for a living?  There’s not a person out there who couldn’t do your job.  Thanks to advances in software, you don’t even have to be literate to do it nowadays.  You could just dictate into the computer.  I wrote movie reviews for my university newspaper because the editor was a friend of mine.  My reviews were quite good, and I probably could have made a career out of it if I wanted to, but I didn’t.  Do you know why?  It’s because it would be a complete waste of my education and my life.  I find the fact that people get paid to do it absolutely hilarious, even if it’s a tad depressing.  If someone ever trains a monkey to type, the whole lot of you will be out of a job.

  15. Dude says:

    I enjoyed this movie. I don’t think a review should give a total synopsis of the plot of a movie.

  16. AUBB says:

    Rex Reed, you obviously know nothing about martial arts or women, and it clearly pisses you off to see cute boys beat up, or fine furniture broken, more than anything else about this movie. I am curious if you have ever found any action movie to demonstrate high quality storytelling, I know I haven’t. That is because movies that tell a story well are called dramas, and they are generally boring movies for boring old farts like yourself. Haywire is an action movie it is supposed to feature action, like fighting and car chases, and all that fun stuff a dreary old queen like yourself could never understand. Dissing Haywire for having a poor storyline is like complaing that a sports car performs poorly in the Dakar Rally, or that a rally car doesn’t have a luxurious interior. So do the world a favor and stick to “The King’s Speech”. When you try and discuss things you know nothing about, you only expose yourself as a pompous fraud.

  17. CRR says:

    Amen to Rex Reed.  I’ve never been tempted to walk out on a movie until this one.  Thin plot, stiff  “acting” by Carano.  No doubt her athletic skills are impressive, but it ends there.

  18. L. S. Kincaid says:

    Unfortunately I have to agree. I had high hopes for this film based on trailers and casting alone and was bored senseless by drawn out scenes involving nothing happening, a thin at best plot, and some of the worst editing decisions that I have ever seen on the big screen. The soundtrack was obnoxious and did not in any way fit the scenes, Gina Carano was tolerable if they had only cut down on the amount of monotone  pointless dialogue, and although the opening fight scene was amazing, they progressively got worse; leading up to the final fight scene with Ewan Mcgregor that was painfully repetitive and boring. The bottom line is that editing can save or destroy any film. You can actually hear the room tone cut out for dialogue at times. I am embarrassed for everyone involved in that wasted opportunity of a project.