Is ‘Haywire’ re-defining the action movie?

Gina Carano in Haywire (2011)

Haywire (2012)

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

6/10  R

Aren’t choreographed mixed martial arts a little like professional wrestling? That’s what it seems like in “Haywire,” just a pretty stunt. Gina Carano, female MMA superstar, kicks Hollywood’s prettiest faces in the teeth, no holds barred. Michael Fassbender, doing his own stunts, gets what was coming to him. Channing Tatum and Ewan McGregor both go down at the hands (and feet…and elbows) of Gina “Conviction” Carano. But it’s a mere novelty in the grand scheme, a forgettable January release (by now, Hollywood has proven that phrase redundant).

Superspy Mallory Kane (Carano) seeks vengeance when a special ops mission went wrong years ago. She hunts down friends and foes as she makes discovers the truth behind that fated mission gone bad. If you want more, I don’t have it. That’s what I could gather from this complicated plot that involved a lot of silence and a lot of non-linearity. Thankfully (at least for the silence part), the hipster’s paradise (let me clear up that I thought I had just made up the cool new phrase…unfortunately it was too good to be true) score by David Holmes is a hopping tune complete with coffeehouse maracas and bongos, with an old-school foreign film sound. It works. Carano’s skills were a pleasure to watch, but director Steven Soderbergh (“Traffic,” “Contagion”) gives her only enough dialogue to push the plot forward, (I assume) for fear that the newcomer couldn’t handle a hefty role so soon.

Steven Soderbergh and Gina Carano in Haywire (2011)

The men of “Haywire” (minus Tatum, who I’ve never enjoyed as an actor) were a spectacle. Fassbender is dangerously charming; McGregor tries his hand at villainy; Antonio Banderas and Michael Douglas are timeless treasures in their small roles as corrupt suits, and Bill Paxton is far from Randall McCoy as the seemingly ordinary father of Kane.

“The American” and “The Edge of Darkness” (combined with a 6.5 rating on IMDb, higher than “Haywire”) came to mind when seeing the complicated plot and sparse action interrupting fits of utter calm. Whoever said silence is golden was wrong, at least when it comes to thrillers. What sound effects “Haywire” did provide was a failure. It sounded as if they covered their mic’s in plastic wrap.

“Haywire” is just what you’d expect from a January release. 99% of people will forget about it by the time the 2013 Oscars roll around. It’s a humdrum, forgettable movie with a promising cast and a disappointing execution. Carano should stay in the octagon, where I can only assume she’s a thrill to watch fight. But beyond the on-screen fighting, it didn’t work for me.

Remember to sign up at the bottom for your screen for email updates! My next few reviews, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “Taking Shelter,” and “50/50,” should be better examples of cinematic achievement. Fingers crossed!

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