Saturday, January 28, 2012

Haywire : Movie Review

Haywire is a fucking awesome film.

I just walked through the door and I am compelled to write a glowing review for it right god damn now. So indulge me for a moment (this is neither code, nor crafts... but it is about a woman breaking into to typical masculin rolls while still maintaining her femininity which I feel is a subject near and dear to my heart and relevant to the mood of my blog)

Haywire is a great action genre film. It stars Gina Carano, an actual MMA fighter, as Mallory, our hero. There's a plot, a rather classic one, that is neither offensive nor groundbreaking. There's acting, which while having several notable, respectable named actors remains reasonable but does not really call attention to itself. There's some dry and subtle comedy sprinkled here but no collection of terrible/great one liners. And then there's the action. There's fight scenes, certainly, but also running and climbing and driving and handling of weapons and one's self that all scream high quality.

The real highlight and draw of this film is the well choreographed actions and the actors abilities to deliver them so well. It's certainly not an arty violence like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon but it's no Drive. The blows and impacts are jaring and, at times, even a little uncomfortable to watch but the gore is minimal. Violence in the real world is bad, but I enjoy a film like this for its ability to display such technical tallent and skill while also getting the viewer's adrenaline up a notch or two. My viewing companion, Andy, noted that the entire film was very tightly done-- no extra exposition, plot, or characters. Its 1:33 in length and everything feels put together, progressing steadily, and focused on plot points tied to intense action sequences.

But, really, the main reason I'm so over-the-moon about this is because Gina is female. We've seen films like these by Jackie Chan, Jason Statham, and Bruce Lee before. Vehicles to display our heros awesome powers. But this one is a woman. Just... dwell on that a moment. There have certainly been action movies with female leads before-- I saw and liked Angelina Jolie's Salt (2010) for example and while it has some good action, and certainly looks similar at a high level... it's not the same. It lacks the technical bite that this film has. Jolie can act, but her action and violence is more arty or at least staged. I just can't buy her really swinging at someone or for that matter anyone ever landing a real punch on her. This film is about how bad ass Gina is. How well she can sell the intensity of a fight scene. She gives and takes and then gives some more and wins.

There are several shocking shots of Mallory getting taken by "surprise" at the start of an attack. These are sudden and disturbing because it's just some dude suddenly lashing out at her, a (very very) latent fear in my own mind and perhaps other folks. This happens though because like all good and classic heroes, Mallory doesn't start fights-- she just finishes them. Once the initial punch is thrown however the fights explode into action and it's a level playing ground.

It might be sexist to discuss Gina's looks, but since I'm equally happy to dwell on male leads, we'll call it fair game. I find it also very heartening that we see her in several stages of dress-- bruised post fight, all dressed up, casual, and later in intense butt kicking mode (which- spoiler alert- involves her hair being braided back into very compact corn rows and made me ridiculously happy in its extreme practicality). She's a lovely lady with a figure I can believe in. Since she actually is an MMA fighter it shouldn't be surprising that she actually looks like she can throw a punch but still-- it's kind of surprising. The fights don't ignore the fact she's a woman (several times her opponents easily lift her off the ground) but it does not dwell on the fact, which is pleasing. A final note should be made that she cleans up quite well and has the most lovely lips that I've seen on screen in quite a while. She is what and how I imagined Nolan's Catwoman to be. Non of that Hathaway nonsense.

Gina hasn't really been in any real film before and I have high hopes that this isn't her last. I plan on going to see the film again with Adam* and look forward to the chance to see her in something else later. Ideally beside that Kiwi from Tarantino's Deathproof, Zoe Bell, and amazing French parkour gentleman David Belle. I'm actually quite curious about how this film came together will be reading what I can about it.

In a closing note, really, this film is fucking awesome. And, really, it's not just the action. The supporting actors are all fantastic, I think particularly Bill Paxton's character. Also Michael Angarano's. Let me not fail to mention that the magical Michael Fassbender is in this as well. Every flavor of evil/bad he portrays is delicious. The man can do no wrong.

* Adam is willing/interested in seeing this film because it's directed by Steven Soderbergh. I should also note, before anyone's hopes get too high, that this test fails the Bechdel Test. And as of this posting it has an 80% on Rotten Tomatoes (86% from critics)

1 comment:

  1. This Bechdel Test is a fascinating thing to think about. I had never heard of it before.