Not so long ago Steven Soderberg directed porn star Sasha Grey in The Girlfriend Experience. Apparently the casting of a non-actress in a lead role was fruitful in his eyes because in Haywire the lead is this time played a professional MMA fighter: Gina Carano. Like Steven Seagal and Jean Claude van Damme in basically all their movies her character suits her real life background as she’s working as a private contractor for dangerous missions; a bit of spy for hire. The plot, about some set-up incriminating her for a murder, is very run of the mill and with another team behind and in front of the camera this movie would have gone straight to DVD.
Which brings us to the core of the movie; it’s basically an art house b-action flick. The simple story line is convoluted by its minimal dialogue, use of flashbacks and jumping from one country to another. Soderberg uses all of his tricks to elevate the movie from its low budget brothers. Instead of the now cliche modern techno like fonts used for displaying locations he uses a light Helvetica. It’s small things like that the give the movie just a dash of thought through design. He stays away from the rapid cuts and color filters every b-movie director uses nowadays and carefully frames his shots. Like early Seagal movies he relies on the skills of the lead to create good actions scenes instead of creating this strictly through editing. And not at one moment this I have the idea Eastern European countries like Bulgaria were doubling for the UK or even Spain.
Despite all the skill that has gone in making the movie better than your average b-movie it’s just one of those pimped cars. You can split the tailpipe, put a spoiler on it and give a cool custom paint job, but in the end you’re still driving a piece of shit car that just looks more awesome than it actually is.
Haywire is a decent action movie, elevated by the famous names in cast and a star that convinces in action scenes. Her dialogue is kept to a minimum which is a good thing, but like Steven Seagal the script never requires her to display a wide range of emotions and at some points I did found her delivery of the little amount of dialogue she does have to be off. It looks good, and they’ve gone to great lengths to mask the actual simplicity of the plot, but maybe this movie would have benefitted from keeping a straight forward plot.