Action movie heroines have received plenty of screen time the past couple of months. The results have been mixed. Rooney Mara played a mesmerizing Lisbeth Salander in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, while the newest installment of the Underworld series was largely forgettable, despite the best efforts of Kate Beckinsale.
Haywire, directed by Steven Soderbergh, also boasts a fighting female lead: martial-arts expert Gina Carano. The problem with Haywire, though, does not have anything to do with the cast, which includes the likes of Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglass, Channing Tatum, Antonio Banderas and Bill Paxton. The problem has nothing to do with the premise, which is basically a rehash of the Bourne movies with a woman playing the betrayed secret agent. The problem is that Haywire is simply no fun to watch.
Soderbergh works with a script largely void of any interesting dialogue. As viewers, we find out details of the plot only as Mallory (Carono) discovers and recaps the events of her betrayal. Soderbergh tries too hard to add the cooler-than-cool style to Haywire that he was able to pull off in the Ocean’s franchise. He focuses the camera on close-ups of character’s faces and unorthodox angles during tense moments. However, these attempts to liven the material merely inspire apathy. Highlights include some expertly choreographed fight scenes, though they incite laughs from the audience rather than the intended gasps due to weak character development.
What you need to know about the plot can be surmised from the trailer: Mallory has been double-crossed for some reason and is out for blood. Soderbergh treats the story with little to no urgency. Spy espionage is diluted with scenes of Mallory walking on the street, and the car chases have little to no intensity.
The opening of the movie feature some riveting action. A fellow agent tries to capture Mallory and they end up grappling in a coffee shop. The remaining 87 minutes of the film go nowhere as the subsequent fight scenes feel repetitive and the plot twists seem forced. Even though the movie runs just over 90 minutes, the credits are likely to bring the audience relief above all else.