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Monday, January 23, 2012

Going 'Haywire'

Steven Soderbergh has been a busy man lately.  After killing off Gwyneth Paltrow in gruesome fashion and playing on some of our worst primal fears last year in his 'Andromeda Strain'-esque virus outbreak movie 'Contagion,' the acclaimed director (best known for his Academy Award winning films 'Traffic' and 'Erin Brockovich') indulged in a bit of fun in his latest spy-versus-spy movie 'Haywire' starring MMA/Muay Thai champion and former American Gladiator Gina Carano.  Just as its namesake suggests, 'Haywire' is fast, furious, blink-and-you-miss chaotic and, well, totally kick-ass.  There's just no other way to put it.  It is said that you can recognize a Soderbergh movie when you see one; after all, most of his films have a certain spare, docudrama style, and this one's no different. The story treads familiar territory, about a female 'operator' who got 'burned' by her superiors in the cloak-and-dagger business. The similiarity ends here though, as this is much better than the Angelina Jolie-starred 'Salt,' which was by no means a bad movie.  'Haywire' is a gritty, no-holds-barred action/suspense thriller that grabs you and won't let go like one of Gina Carano's trademark choke-holds. And Gina, oh Gina, NEVER have I seen such believable lethality in such a beautiful package! The writers didn't give her much to say in this movie, for better or worse, but Mallory Kane's quiet, understated demeanor and Tony Jaa-inspired Muay Thai fly kicks speak much louder than words, thank you very much.  I mean, come on, John Rambo didn't have much to say either in four movies, did he?

Like many of Soderbergh's films, 'Haywire' boasts an admirable ensemble cast, including Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Ewan McGregor, Channing Tatum, Bill Paxton and the rising Michael Fassbender.  While 'Haywire' does give the vibes of a 'B' movie in its minimalist approach, that's not necessarily a bad thing. This is what a Jason Bourne movie would be like if Quentin Tarantino or Robert Rodriguez had the director's chair and bull-horn.  And well, that last line uttered by Rodrigo (played by Antonio Banderas) at the end of the movie is simply priceless.

8 out of 10

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