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Identity Crisis: Haywire is a run of the mill martial arts fest 

Actors Antonio Banderas, Gina Carano, and Michael Douglas star in the action-packed film, Haywire.

click to enlarge screen_haywire.jpg
I have a few problems with this movie. First off, when you call something haywire, the audience really shouldn't wait the entire movie to find out that nobody goes haywire. I mean if a director called a movie "Boycott" or "Slaughter," we would expect to see one of those things happen onscreen. That's not the case with Haywire, director Steven Soderbergh's latest foray into action/espionage.

I'm a fan of Soderbergh. I liked Ocean's 11(12 and 13) and I like that he has the guts to make a major epic like Che, as well as low-budget art movies such as The Girlfriend Experience, Bubble and the overlooked Kafka. He always seems to challenge genre stereotypes and puts his intellectual stamp on his subjects, but not here. Sure, there's a snazzy jazz soundtrack and exotic locales, but no real shocks. Haywire is a mediocre flick that feels contrived and cliché. The best thing about the movie is the camera work, which stuns.

Martial arts mistress Gina Carano shows promise in her acting debut as a rogue spy and victim of an elaborate double cross. But Soderbergh's attempt at the Bourne Identity with a female lead is nothing special. She runs, she fights, she shoots, she kicks. There are three fight scenes designed to showcase Carano's fighting acumen. The first slugfest comes out of nowhere and is kind of Van Damme-ish with boyfriend Channing Tatum as the punching bag. The second (and best) features Michael Fassbender (Inglorious Bastards, X-Men) and features high-energy punching and weapon work. However, the final rock 'em sock 'em with Ewan McGregor is laughable. These actors obviously did their own stunts. So we can't expect much from McGregor, but he punches like a wimp.

Soderbergh's highly acclaimed Traffic won him an Oscar for best director and left an indelible mark on cinematic history, yet Haywire doesn't feel clever or willing to take chances; it's lazy.

The other actors are reduced to cameo appearances and ought to be referred to as they appear on screen: Antonio "Beardy" Banderas, Michael "Old Wrinkle Puss" Douglas, Channing "Thick Neck" Tatum; you get the picture.

While I look forward to seeing Carano again, in the end, Haywire lands somewhere between mainstream film and straight to video. It seems he's done this movie before and much better with mainstream features like Out of Sight and The Limey.

Soderbergh keeps announcing his retirement from films, maybe it's time he follows through.


2 Stars

Staring Gina Carano, Ewan McGregor,
Michael Fassbender Antonio Banderas, Channing Tatum, Michael Douglas

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Rated R

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