‘Haywire,’ though brutal, captivates


Album and film covers used under fair use exception to copyright laws.

Kira Lubahn

Album and film covers used under fair use exception to copyright laws.
Haywire starts with a cold open, panning from unfocused snowy trees to reveal a half-frozen Mallory Kane (Gina Carano from Blood and Bone). The camera follows Mallory into a diner, where she only has minutes to rest before a former associate, Aaron (Channing Tatum from Dear John), tries to convince her to get into his car. When this doesn’t seem to be working, Aaron throws coffee into Mallory’s face and the first fight of the film begins.
The fight scenes are easily the best part of the movie.
In real life Carano is a retired mixed martial arts fighter, and that shows during the fights. She is strong, capable and completely believable as she grapples with Tatum, Michael Fassbender (Shame, X-Men: First Class), Ewan McGregor (Beginners, The Men Who Stare at Goats), a SWAT team and various henchmen. The choreography of the fights is mesmerizing, all the more so in that they look incredibly natural. All of the fighting comes with high stakes, namely Mallory’s life, and none of it is done to be gratuitous.
Often if a woman is present in an action film, her body will constantly be on display and any altercations result with her clothes getting ripped off at various camera angles. There is no such “sexy cat fight” in Haywire; Mallory is a serious black ops soldier and is as brutal as she is dangerous. She is definitely not there solely to be eye candy.
While the film revolves around Carano, it wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable without the contributions of the other actors. Fassbender is suave and believable as Paul, a British agent with whom Mallory comes into contact. Playing Kenneth, the owner of a private firm that completes covert operations for the government, McGregor brings to life a scheming and calculating character. It is fascinating to watch Kenneth gradually lose control of the situation, increasingly adding nervous tension to the film. With a grandfatherly beard for most of the film, Antonio Banderas (Puss in Boots, The Skin I Live In) plays Rodrigo, who is likely the most deceptive character of the bunch. Banderas sells the performance, surprising the audience when Rodrigo’s true intentions are uncovered.
In contrast to other action films, Haywire asks the audience to remember important details as it weaves the motives of several characters together. The film alternates between flashbacks and the present as Mallory tells her story to Scott (Michael Angarano from Red State) who she took with her as she escaped from the diner. Over time, it is revealed who set her up and why, though if you blink you might miss the subtle nuances of the plot.
Overall the cinematography is clean, utilizing interesting angles and different levels of focus to create a visually stimulating piece. Scenes taking place in Dublin, Ireland and Los Alamos, New Mexico were filmed on location, easily creating a vivid setting for Carano to interact with. The music composed by David Holmes adds intrigue and heightens intensity. At times, it brings to mind the classic spy movie, giving Haywire an almost James Bond feel.
Carano is a dangerous delight, easily maintaining my interest for the film’s total 93 minutes. Coupled with masterful cinematography and a fitting soundtrack, Haywire is a captivating new action/thriller.