Friday, November 30, 2012

Catching up with 2012: Haywire

After seeing Haywire twice in two weeks, I’m convinced that it’s one of Steven Soderbergh’s very best films. I’m also convinced that Soderbergh should only make films with Lem Dobbs writing the screenplays. The two previously collaborated on my favorite Soderbergh movie, The Limey (and famously had a heated audio commentary session for that film), and after 13 years the two reunite for this modern thriller that has little-to-nothing to do with thrills or spying or the sexy lifestyle we usually associate with films that cover such things. The action, though, is something else. Soderbergh wisely shoots the action not in the manic Bourne style, but in a proscenium style. By staging the action in long shot, two things work better than they do in other modern action pictures: one is that the action sometimes happens in the background just like he did in The Limey, making it far more interesting for our eyes to follow the action than your normal action film. The second thing is showcased in the film’s fantastic final fight scene which is cut just as quickly as a Bourne film; however, instead of cutting quickly and shaking the damn camera all over the place to give the illusion that we’re in the fight, Soderbergh strings together multiple long shots to give the illusion that there’s quick movement. It’s a neat little effect and a pleasant change to what we normally get with modern action films.

Gina Carano – the UFC star – is great in the lead role (she even gets to use a few arm bars), and as usual with a Soderbergh film, Haywire is littered with great supporting performances from A-list actors (my favorites being Michael Douglass and Antonio Banderas, who sports an amazing beard). Haywire reminded me a lot of the tone found in Soderbergh’s uber cool films Out of Sight, The Limey, and Ocean’s Twelve; he paints the screen in his usual greens, yellows, and blues; and he moves most of the narrative (which is pretty silly with the little plot it concerns itself with) with his typical French New Wave stylings as montage and jazzy music move the narrative more than exposition. We get a lot of layered scenes where characters talk while other action – either via flashback or parallel sequences – take place, and the film just kind eases its way through all of its setpieces without a care for modern action film conventions. Haywire feels like a mashup of the aforementioned heavily stylized Soderbergh films as well as Jim Jarmusch’s anti-thriller The Limits of Control. Effortless in how cool it is, Haywire made me giddy in the same way Out of Sight and The Limey did when I first saw those two films. It’s such a fun movie to watch (and watch and watch), rivaling Soderbergh’s very best. 


  1. Love this film also. Very underrated. It also features yet another fantastic score by David Holmes. Collaborating with Soderbergh always seems to bring the best out on him and I've loved every soundtrack he's done for the director's films.

    Wise move on Soderbergh's part to surround Carano with A-listers and reducing her dialogue to the bear minimum. He realized that she is far more interesting to watch do her thing than talk up a storm.

    1. I'm glad you mentioned the score by Holmes. It moves the action just as much as the fight scenes or chases do (which are effortlessly executed). Also, I agree with you about Carano: She's got a great face, and she'll make a great action star (with the right director), but Soderbergh helped her out in a big way by putting so many great actors around her. Still, I'm really interested to see what (if anything) she does next. I love it when Soderbergh works with novice actors (my favorite being BUBBLE), and these films continue to be a nice contrast to his more mainstream efforts.