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Nordling Has Strong Like For Steven Soderbergh's HAYWIRE!


Nordling here.

When Steven Soderbergh strays into genre fare, it’s always interesting to watch, because he brings his sensibilities into those films.  The plot of HAYWIRE, on paper, could probably fit on a postage stamp.  Soderbergh’s done revenge stories before, such as THE LIMEY (which was written by Lem Dobbs, who also wrote HAYWIRE), and while the plot seems fairly routine, the execution by both Soderbergh and the script are anything but.  In HAYWIRE’s case, the result is a tight action thriller that showcases a performance from Gina Carano that might be hesitant in the quieter moments, but is extremely confident in the action sequences. 

We’re introduced to Mallory Kane (Carano) outside a diner in upstate New York – she waits outside, unsure of how to proceed, but she decides to risk it and goes in.  Carano has a look about her that’s disarming and sweet, which makes what happens next all the more stunning as she takes down a former fling who shows up to take her in (Channing Tatum).  Next thing we realize, Kane is on the run with a flustered kid from the diner (Michael Angarano) who tried to help her out, and as she tells her story, we go into flashback to learn just why a secret organization is going after Mallory.  Kenneth (Ewan McGregor), the head of the organization, wants to tie up some loose ends from a job in Spain that on the surface was a success, but didn’t go as planned, and Mallory is one of those loose ends.

The rest of the film is Mallory getting her revenge on those that set her up and Soderbergh styles up the proceedings far more than any routine director would have done with the material.  HAYWIRE is always interesting to watch – the fights aren’t pumped up for effect, but instead feel very real-world and genuine.  Soderbergh has surrounded Carano with heavyweight actors like McGregor, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Bill Paxton, and Michael Fassbender, so any awkwardness from Carano’s performance is quickly smoothed over by the other performers.  Carano does have that elusive something that movie stars have – even when she is simply outacted by her co-stars, you can’t seem to take your eyes off her.

Soderbergh does action quite well – there’s no build-up, no hyperstylized direction, just simple filmmaking done with directness and skill.  Each punch isn’t accentuated by a large boom on the soundtrack – you get the idea that if you came across these people fighting on the street it would look and sound exactly like this.  HAYWIRE reminded me of DRIVE quite a bit – while the substance of the film has been done many times before, it’s Soderbergh’s style that wins you over and makes the film worth your while.  I love how Soderbergh shoots foreign locales – they feel real as opposed to touristy.  If the plot twists are confusing, everything sorts itself out nicely as the movie progresses; the characters talk in a droll banter that disguises the weight of the subject matter.  Much like TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY, the bureaucratic jabber hides the fact that these are ruthless people who will stop at nothing to bring Mallory down.  The only man she can fully trust is her father (Bill Paxton) who taught her how to take care of herself, and a sequence at his house is thrilling and exciting.

There’s always something distancing about Steven Soderbergh’s work for me.  I can never quite put my finger on it – my favorite film of his, KING OF THE HILL, is the exception – but whenever I see his movies I feel more like I’m outside the door looking in than I’m invited into the living room, if that makes any sense.  HAYWIRE isn’t different in that regard – the style of the film may put some people off, but it’s worth it to see Soderbergh play outside his safety zone.  He’s always interesting, and while I’m not head-over-heels in love with HAYWIRE, I admire it quite a bit.

Nordling, out.

Readers Talkback
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  • Jan. 20, 2012, 6:14 a.m. CST

    saw it last night here in the UK

    by the_man_with_two_brains

    I was quite surprised and it reminded me a lot of The Limey, the thing I found most amusing is all those poor souls who aren't familiar with Soderburgh's style of direction. I think a lot of people were expecting a balls out non-stop action film and whilst there was action in there, it was all grounded, realistic and considered. For a film that was relatively short it felt a lot longer and I agree with Nordling Carano is quite mesmerising on screen. A good film, not great but definately worth a watch. I don't think cinema chains are expecting it to be a big hit as it was relegated to the tiny screens in the multiplex normally reserved for independant films or those on the way out.

  • Jan. 20, 2012, 6:31 a.m. CST

    Love me some Gina :)

    by LargoJr

    Looking forward to seeing this. The last decent 'fight scenes' we got were from Daniel Craig. It's nice to get something you ca watch and believe in.

  • Jan. 20, 2012, 6:42 a.m. CST


    by cleetdog101

    Loved this girl before she was in MMA and was KOing tiny asian women in Thailand.

  • Jan. 20, 2012, 7:09 a.m. CST

    King of the Hill is my favorite Soderbergh film as well!

    by baronweazle

    I always thought I was the only idiot, that loved that film to death.

  • Jan. 20, 2012, 8:05 a.m. CST

    balls out non-stop action film

    by Andrew Quinsatt

    That's what we wanted out of this material... When I heard Sodenberg was attached to it, I knew it wasn't going to be that but I wanted it to be that, fuck!!!!

  • Jan. 20, 2012, 8:11 a.m. CST

    I hope Soderbergh doesn't retire

    by Samuel Fulmer

    Probably the best big budget experimental film maker out there.

  • Jan. 20, 2012, 10:05 a.m. CST

    Smell it, bitch!

    by kidicarus

  • Jan. 20, 2012, 10:06 a.m. CST

    It looks like cunnilingus by force

    by kidicarus

  • Jan. 20, 2012, 10:07 a.m. CST

    I'd say she does

    by the_man_with_two_brains

    You catch a look in her eye that tells you not much would be taboo with this lady...

  • Jan. 20, 2012, 10:08 a.m. CST


    by the_man_with_two_brains

    During the film there was one line that called her wonder woman, although I have no interest in that franchise I guess they could do a lot worse, she's like the latest incarnation of Jennifer Garner.

  • Jan. 20, 2012, 10:26 a.m. CST

    Chops, most certainly. But enter at your own risk:

    by P

    Her sphincter could snap your dick off

  • Jan. 20, 2012, 10:32 a.m. CST

    The Limey

    by phifty2

    Great movie. Peter Fonda makes picking your teeth look cool.

  • Jan. 20, 2012, 10:49 a.m. CST

    The only problem with flicks like this...

    by eustisclay they come from exploitation roots and done up all arty so I'm not really sure who they're meant for. Watch Corman's Lethal Ladies collection. The plots are shit, the acting is terrible, but the fight scenes are pretty good and most importantly the lethal ladies get naked.

  • Jan. 20, 2012, 11:04 a.m. CST

    Spoilers much? Where's the warning...

    by Ed

  • Usually I just read the first and last paragraph of a review if i haven't seen the movie. That works well unless you have a douche like Capone who will reveal the biggest spoiler in the first sentence (for Hugo). So I just stopped reading his stuff on here.

  • Jan. 20, 2012, 3:59 p.m. CST

    Sounds good, but Tatum is in it ...

    by Huelya

    I just can't take him seriously as an actor.

  • Jan. 20, 2012, 4:09 p.m. CST

    This movie is absolute shit

    by The Dude Abides

    The acting is wooden and the action is boring and the plot is nonsensical. It's a waste of time.

  • Jan. 20, 2012, 4:09 p.m. CST

    Seriously, you know how bad it is halfway through the first scene

    by The Dude Abides

    And it does NOT get any better. Actually, it gets worse.

  • Jan. 20, 2012, 4:10 p.m. CST

    *you'll know

    by The Dude Abides

  • Jan. 21, 2012, 3:35 p.m. CST


    by DustinBones

    Went to a screening on Thursday. I liked it. The fight scenes were filmed with a mostly static wide view (at least compared to the Bourne movies). Considering the cast and director, I have to assume people are expecting "The Godfather" of spy flicks. It's not. It was a tight, brutal, short, well made spy flick.

  • Jan. 21, 2012, 5:04 p.m. CST

    I thought it was fuckin' great.

    by NeonFrisbee

    Just a cool, fun, straight up revenge-actioner with a hott chick (who can actually kick ass in real life) doin the ass kicking. What's not to like?

  • Feb. 12, 2012, 5:20 p.m. CST

    I loved it.

    by wierdo27

    I didn't go to see her act. I went to see her be a badass. And I got what I payed for. I can easily see her as a big screen Wonder Woman. If you don't wanna see a hot gal kick some serious ass, then why the fuck did you go? It's like going to see the Expendables, and being mad because it's not Lawrence of Arabia. Carano. Good Looking. Kicks Ass. That's all you need to know. If that's not what you want to see, then don't go see it.