Hollywood seems to have a crush on secret agents. From the James Bond films to The Bourne Identity to Mission Impossible, it is no surprise that Steven Soderbergh's Haywire follows suit. Haywire is a cross between Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill and Phillip Noyce's Salt, with one distinction -- all three movies have a vengeful warrior-woman as the main character, but Haywire is a far tamer version of both.
Mallory Kane is a covert operative working for a private American government contractor. After she and her team successfully free a Chinese journalist held hostage in Barcelona, a series of other missions lead her to discover that she has been double-crossed by her partners and handlers. She then evades the authorities and schemes to clear her name.
Gina Carano, who plays Kane, is perfect for the lead role. Carano's sharp features, deadly eyes and husky voice create a look of toughness, indestructibility and sultriness for her character. Critics have hailed Carano as "the female version of Jason Bourne," and it is quite rewarding to see Carano, the sole heroine among a testosterone-heavy cast, viciously tackling her male opponents. Although a talented cast may make viewers expect otherwise, Carano easily supersedes co-stars Channing Tatum, Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas, Michael Fassbender, Antonio Banderas and Michael Angarano -- these actors play supporting roles which, sadly, lack substance and make their characters blend into the background.
The Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy makes the astute observation that "[Haywire] is refreshingly frank." In the fight scenes, there is no suspenseful music playing; rather, viewers will be captivated by the sound of grunts and punches thrown similar to witnessing a bar fight.Haywire is realistic and "there" -- it's different from other action thrillers in a sense that it is very deliberate and detailed, but unfortunately this can be to the point of agonizing delay. There are unsuspecting scenes that give a little kick of adrenaline, but end up barely redeeming the slow-moving plot. Ironically, the film itself goes a little bit haywire at times -- with abrupt scene-switches, scattered locations and numerous characters, it's hard to follow along amidst the mayhem.
Haywire is a film you definitely want to catch for its realistic portrayal of the world of black ops and for the smoldering character of Mallory Kane. Adrenaline junkies with high expectations, however, are advised to search elsewhere for their explosive action fix.