Haywire

They left her no choice – but really, she didn’t need one.

A covert operative for hire needs to do what she does best because . . . that’s life in the crazy game in international intrigue. That’s not to say there’s a failure in the plot.  Quite the contrary.  The plot is clean, clear, and under control.

Any difficulties originate from the story-telling and jargon to keep us happily confused.  That’s what keeps it working in a way that From Paris with Love (2010) tried but valiantly failed to do.  Have the confusion bouncing along all the time while keeping us interested by kicking seven kinds of crap out of the malicious or manipulated.  There’s one piece of confusion that Haywire correctly avoided–the only plot line we care about is this:  Mallory Kane stays alive.

That single-mindedness is the story’s greatest attribute and what limits its greatness as a film.  There’s no overt (or labored) statement on covert operations in the world today or the role private corporations play in it.  Any of that comes into the theater with you.  We’re all here to be entertained and Haywire does it for an hour and half without offending sensibilities.  That is, unless your sensibilities include non-violence from or towards women.  That sensibility will be thoroughly shocked until the nerve is dead.

That brings me to Gina Corano.  I didn’t know that she was an MMA fighter until after I saw the movie.  And while it does explain some of her affectations, she does the movie no harm (nor does her bottom lip).  She plays it with a kind of simple reality that is nice to see in an action role and plays to her strength.  One character says “Don’t think of her as a woman, that would be a mistake.”  This is the message that I felt wrapping me up in a warm egalitarian blanket.

Absolutely and about time.

The director, Soderbergh,  followed this advice throughout the movie.  He never uses Corano as an object of our voyeuristic pleasure.  Corano is very well put together and yet I have no idea what she looks like in a bikini.  There is no on-screen sex in this movie.  This restraint is so refreshing, I can hardly believe it actually happened.  My awareness of it makes me want to wag the old pointer at Chuck for failing to get the message.  Consider it wagged.

In corporate speak, what were the “change opportunities”?

Music.  Its use was minimal, I suspect to keep the budget laughably small.  Still, Steve, you can get behind the keyboard and pound out some stress-enhancers.  I like a silent fight as much as the next guy, but a silent car chase is another thing entirely.

Emotion.  There were some missed opportunities where Mallory could have done some shouting.  She need not cry, and if she had I would have found it cheap and demeaning, but I’d be pissed if [that guy did that thing to that other person] and would have shouted.

Bruises.  I’m fine if she bruises but doesn’t break, but Mallory gets hit in the face a great deal and only once does she put make-up on to hide the fact.  I feel like you can’t just tick the box with that.

Script.  As I tweeted, the dialogue is Mamet under some sort of debilitating drugs.  You can’t just breathe away these lines, you have to punch them.  If you don’t, how are we supposed to know we need our context-enhancing ears?  There is also one tweak in terms of story telling that I feel is a friendly amendment:  Michael Douglas‘s last scene needs to be clearer.  At that point in the movie, we’re pulling it together and obfuscation becomes counter-productive.

Bottom Line

The movie was very good at entertaining us without out being too dumb to function.  Perhaps that’s repetitive.  If I were to put it in a family tree (and really, why wouldn’t I?), Ronin (1998) (written by Mamet, incidentally) is its father, Haywire is the attractive daughter, Drive (2011) is its Swedish son, Hanna (2011) is the weird but lovable younger daughter.

About Prof. Ratigan

A semi-lawyer and amateur enthusiast.
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2 Responses to Haywire

  1. Pingback: The Switch | Prof. Ratigan

  2. Pingback: Top 12 Films of 2012 | Prof. Ratigan

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