Sunday, January 29, 2012

Haywire (Sunday, January 29, 2012) (5)

Steven Soderbergh is a good and talented filmmaker. Above everything else, he's a great watcher of other, older movies. Maybe that's why I generally like his movies, or, at a minimum, find his work interesting, because I feel like he's a movie watcher just like I am.

His newest film, Haywire, is a really fun, small action film that plays very much like one of those sleek post-Bond action flicks, like John Boorman's Point Blank (with Lee Marvin). The story here is not too complicated (well, there are lots of moving parts to it, but it's not too hard to follow), the action scenes, fights and chases, look great, it does not spending too much time dwelling on character development and pathos (it's an action film, after all) and it all ties up well in the end.

Mallory (MMA star Gina Carano) is a super spy who works for some private firm that consults with the CIA. When a job goes pear-shaped she finds that people on her own team might be out to get her and she looks to find them before they can find her. She seems always a half-step ahead of them and is not afraid to put on heels and a black dress and kill people (like a girl James Bond). It's a very sleek movie, though nothing too deep or psychologically rigorous.

It's always a big risk to cast a non-actor in a major role, especially one like this which is not really autobiographical. I think Soderbergh rather enjoys making the audience feel uncomfortable with non-actors in major roles, a bit of a thumbing his nose at Hollywood tradition.

Carano does a very good job here, actually (much better than the last non-actor SS had in one of his movies, when anal porno superstar Sasha Grey was in The Girlfriend Experience in 2009), and comes off as an aw-shucks girl next door... but a badass one. She's totally sexy - and thick, which is doubly sexy - and plays well opposite the various males who want to lay her (Michael Fassbender, Channing Tatum, Ewan McGregor). I'm not sure she has a lot of other acting roles left in her career, but this is a great effort here.

I also appreciate that this is a pocket-sized action flick. It's a lot of fun and doesn't have the bombasity of a bigger-budget action movie, like a Mission: Impossible or a late-model Bond. It's got a great look, a great soundtrack (by David Holmes), and is a lot of fun.

Stars: 3 of 4

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