Blu-ray Review: Haywire

Haywire Blu-raySTUDIO: Lionsgate | DIRECTOR: Steven Soderbergh | CAST: Gina Carano, Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas, Michael Fassbender, Antonio Banderas, Bill Paxton, Channing Tatum
BLU-RAY & DVD RELEASE DATE: 5/1/2012 | PRICE: Blu-ray $39.99, DVD $29.95
BONUSES: two featurettes
SPECS: R | 93 min. | Action thriller | 2.40:1 widescreen | DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1/Dolby Digital 5.1 | English and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Steven Soderbergh (The Informant!) takes on the spy genre in the action-thriller Haywire, featuring veteran Mixed Martial Arts fighter Gina Carano in her first-ever starring role.

Carano portrays Mallory Kane, an undercover agent who bounces around the world on a mission, gets double-crossed by her own organziaton, is left for dead, and then pulls it together enact some sweet revenge on those who did her wrong (while more-or-less completing her mission).

A minor genre offering, Haywire doesn’t have the flash of a James Bond film or the furiously edited, over-the-top delivery of a Jason Bourne adventure. And, no, the striking-looking Carano is not an accomplished actor. But Haywire’s story doesn’t demand all that much in the way of thesping—it’s tailored to Carano’s remarkable physical talents. And that means we see a lot of her punching, leaping, scaling, running, jumping and just generally kicking ass—all of it shot and edited for maximum, realistic impact. Any acting that the film requires is left to the handful of seasoned male talents that Mallory Kane encounters (sometimes fatally), including Michael Douglas (Disclosure), Michael Fassbender (Shame), Antonio Banderas (The Skin I Live In), Ewan McGregor (The Ghost Writer) and Channing Tatum (The Dilemma).

Haywire appears to be an opporuitnity  for Soderbergh and screenwriter Lem Dobbs to exercise their apparent wish to make a spy thriller with a not-as-convoluted-as-it-could-be script, punctuated with as-realistic-as-we-can-make’em fight scenes and chases. Clocking in at a slim 93 minutes, Haywire will definitely deliver for fans of the director, who never encountered a genre he didn’t want to tackle, and those who appreciate the physicality of a good-looking lady fighter-turned-actor (for now, at least) getting oh-so-physical with a handful of Hollywood’s most popular leading men (especially McGregor, Tatum and Fassbender).

The sound and image on the Blu-ray is fantastic, with Soderbergh’s cinemtography (he shot the film himself, which he’s been doing a lot lately) glowing in all the right places. There a sort of reddish-golden tint to Haywire‘s look (particularly in many of the interiors), perhaps in an effort to make it look like a film from an earlier era. Whatever the reason, it looks nice and doesn’t soften the fine detail that Soderbergh’s camera and the high-defnition transfer capture. As for the audio, the numerous sounds of fists hitting jaws and feet kicking into bellies delivers a firm, low-end “Oommmph.”

With only two featurettes, the bonus package isn’t impressive—Soderbergh himself hasn’t been all that involved in supplemental materials for his films in recent years.  The first is the five-minute-plus “The Men of Haywire,” which includes quick interview bits with Douglas, McGregor and the other actors. Fassbender, whose extended fight in a hotel room with Carano is the film’s action highlight, notably comments that his physically adept co-star “obviously knows her body very well.”

The second featurette is “Gina Carano in Training,” a 16-minute-long piece highlighted by interviews with Carano, a look at her transition from the MMA world to moviemaking, and peaks at her Haywire fighting sequences and the choreography behind them. there are also clips froma panel discussion where Soderbergh talks about how he saw one of Carano’s MMA match while channel-surfing several years back and that it inspired him to build a 1960s-styled spy movie around her.


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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.