With Gina Carano’s movie Haywire coming into it’s second weekend at the box office, I thought it might be a good time to write my review. You know how I like to be dead last at doing everything, so the time seemed right. Just to warn you though, this isn’t going to be your standard review. It’s full of spoilers, plot points, and other stuff you might not wanna know if you haven’t seen it yet. It’s not like this movie is the Sixth Sense or anything, but I figured I’d warn you. Now you’re warned. Let’s get this party started! (after the jump)
There was a lot of bad signs coming up to the release date of the film. The shifting date itself. The switches in ownership. We also noticed during some of the previews that Gina sounded like a chain smoking sex phone operator, and later it was confirmed that they redubbed her entire part. The official line was Sodebergh wanted to ‘separate’ the character Mallory Kane from the actress Gina Carano. But if you’re going to do that, why hire Gina Carano in the first place? Was Gina really that terrible, or was this just your average stupid studio decision?
The overdubbing itself wasn’t done badly and after 10 minutes you’re able to generally ignore the fact that the voice coming out of Gina’s face isn’t hers. But it fails to work on another level. The goal here was obviously to give Carano a cooler, tougher voice to go with all the cool tough action she dishes out during the film. But it ends up falling flat because it doesn’t synch up with the performance Gina gives. Or the way Mallory Kane is presented throughout the movie.
In a lot of ways, Haywire is kinda like two movies mushed together. In one movie Mallory Kane is a professional and emotionless badass who isn’t afraid to put a pillow over your face and blow the back of your head out if you mess with her. In the other, she yearns for vacation time, is a daddy’s girl, and has all sorts of boy drama. In one scene she’s obviously disdainful and untrusting of a fellow operative, and in the next she’s pulling his pants off and banging him.
This same dichotomy applies to half the characters in the movie. Channing Tatum, Ewan McGregor, and Michael Douglas all do the Romney flip flop from scene to scene, playing whatever character the movie needs them to play at the time with nary a concern about reason or consistency. It makes sense when you take into account my guess that the second half of the movie was changed half a dozen times over. It seems like several of the characters who were supposed to be bad guys become good guys in rewrites.
Just like the redubbing, it’s hard to know if all the reshoots were a good or bad idea since we’ll never see the original version. But I will say this: the third act of Haywire falls flat on it’s face, and I know a lot of that was reshoots because of the weight difference between primary photography Gina and reshoot Gina. Sorry to bring it up.
Let’s break down why the ending was such garbage. First we’ll need to look at what Haywire did well. The entire movie was based around an idea Steven Sodebergh had that ended up being the hotel fight scene between Gina Carano and Michael Fassbender. Fast, realistic violence was the order of the day and that scene lives up to the director’s goals, as did the opening fight scene between Carano and Tating you can see all over the internet. People in the theater were audibly gasping as these fights went down. Mission accomplished.
But by the time you get to the end of the film, you’re lucky if the fights even happen on camera. The long, unedited shots of ass kickery are replaced by a ton of quick cuts in a dark room giving us the idea of Gina taking out her opponents. Everything builds up to a confrontation between Gina and her doublecrossers at her dad’s house, but the situation fizzles when there’s only two guys to fight and the main bad guy inexplicably escapes by literally hiding under a rock.
This sets up Haywire’s second of three finishes, an equally unsatisfying scene where Gina takes on her nemesis on an empty beach. There’s no fancy fighting here, no brutal use of surroundings to maim one’s opponent. I’m sure it didn’t help editing that Gina showed up for the reshoot looking less than svelte, but regardless of the reason, it was an awkward, lazy scene. The villain had a compound full of nasty looking mercs Gina could have cut through leading up to a face off. Instead he goes for a convenient walk and the two duke it out mano-a-womano by the water. If you were wondering why our bud Matt Polly called some of the fighting ‘Captain Kirk laughable’, it’s probably this scene he’s referring to.
Just like the characters, there are two sides to Haywire. The side which was beautifully shot, well thought out, and perfectly executed. And the ham-fisted side that looked like the rushed product of a checked out second unit. This is a Steven Sodebergh and Gina Carano film. And in this regard, it was Sodebergh, not Carano, who effed things up.
On that note, let’s talk about Gina’s acting. For a woman who’s only other acting credits were American Gladiators and ” target=”_blank”>Ricky Bobby from Talladega Nights, and others where her facial expressions range from ‘digestive issues’ to ‘nobody home.’ But we’re not shooting for an Academy award here. Gina is the JCVD of this flick, and she carries that mantle just fine.
The key problem the movie faces is pacing and repetition. Chases through the street are all well and good, but by the third example you’re starting to feel chased out. Several of the shootouts and fights end before they even get started, quick blips of action dragged down between 15 minute segments of nothing happening fast. The whole movie takes too much time trying to get somewhere, and in the end goes nowhere. It’s not terrible … it just could have been a lot better.