Friday, May 11, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Haywire (2012) ***

R, 93 min.
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Writer: Lem Dobbs
Starring Gina Carano, Ewan McGreggor, Channing Tatum, Bill Paxton, Michael Angarano, Michael Fassbender, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Mathieu Kassovitz

A couple of years ago indie filmmaker Jim Jarmusch turned in his take on the spy genre with the movie “The Limits of Control”. That movie concentrated on the aspect of waiting in the spy game. It made no efforts to be anything like a typical spy thriller. Now, indie filmmaker Steven Soderbergh puts his hat into the ring of spy flicks with “Haywire”.

I’ll say right from the start, I’m not a fan of the title. It tells us nothing about the movie or its subject matter. The rest of the movie is a lot closer to a traditional spy thriller than Jarmusch’s. Perhaps, he was going for something a little more mainstream with the title as well. The movie concerns itself with the business of the spy game a little more than your “Mission: Impossible” would, but mostly it concerns itself with its star, Gina Carano. Carano is one of the top female mixed martial artists. Apparently, Soderbergh was so taken by her in the ring that she inspired this movie from him.

She’s not bad. Soderbergh surrounds her with a great cast of actors, many from his revolving staple of actors. The hand-to-hand combat scenes are the highlights of the movie, with Carano and many of the actors performing their own stunts. The fights look authentic. They aren’t overblown. The participants get winded, but the intensity never drops.

The story could’ve used a little more work. Screenwriter Lem Dobbs does a lot of fancy footwork himself by telling things out of chronological order and never really allowing the audience to know where everybody’s alliances lie. There are certain plot details, however, that feel lazy and convenient for a spy thriller of this level of sophistication.

Overall, the movie works. It operates in an interesting realm that isn’t always explored in these types of films. The actors bring more to their roles than seem to be there in the script. And, it lives up to its promise to thrill at some level. It isn’t the best spy flick I’ve seen, but it’s better than many.

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