Gina Carona, in need of a facial, in "Haywire"

“Haywire,” the new film from director Steven Soderbergh, is a confusing, incomprehensible, whirlwind of a story.  There is a ton of unclear exposition thrown at the audience by various characters (most of whom are interchangeable) and numerous nicely choreographed fight sequences involving the main character, Mallory (Gina Carona).

Mallory is a secret agent of some sort.  She is beautiful and tough.  She beats up men (killing at least one), leaps across roof tops at a single bound, climbs down drain pipes, knows how to use a gun, throws karate kicks and, even, at one point, falls off a building, emerging with what seems like only an achy back.  Then it is back for more action. 

I understand what Soderbergh is doing:  portraying a woman character in a very non-traditional, non-stereotypical role.  That is fine.  All I ask for though is a story that I can follow.  The amazing thing is that Soderbergh already acomplished both things in his 1998 movie “Out of Sight,” my favorite of his films.  “Out of Sight” had a tough woman federal marshal, played by Jennifer Lopez, plus a very compelling story, based on the novel by Elmore Leonard.  Believe me it represents the best acting that J. Lo has ever done, before or since.

“Haywire” is so adroit at keeping its story a secret (if there even was a story in the first place) that, after a while, I just could not care about its characters.  Then there was really not much else for me to do except wait for the next fight sequence.  The story involves an urgent secret, all sorts of double crosses and lots of talk about Barcelona.  In fact, the word “Barcelona” is spoken more times in this film than any other word.  Do not ask me why, but something happened in Barcelona.

The cast includes Michael Douglas who plays some sort of corrupt government official, in a really thankless cameo.  Antonio Banderas wonders through the proceedings with a silly looking, bushy beard.

Recently I have had conversations with some of my movie going contemporaries about the fact that we all seem to be noticing that more and more movies either just do not make sense, or have elements that do not add up.  At first we thought the problem was with us and that maybe we needed to see the films again.  Then we decided to stop blaming ourselves.  We have since wondered if it is a case of filmmakers not knowing how to tell stories visually anymore, or if it is a case of filmmakers feeling that as long as they throw in certain genre elements (in this case lots of fight sequences) they do not have to tell stories and the audience will somehow just “get” it.  I can imagine someone having “Haywire” playing on their TV, in the background, while they  do something else, with occasional attention  to one of the fight sequences, and coming away with the mistaken impression that they have seen a really good movie.



About unpaidfilmcritic

Up until 2009 Seth Shire spent nearly two decades in the New York film industry as a post production supervisor of feature films. Highlights include working on the films of Martin Scorsese, James Toback and Spike Lee. Since leaving the film industry Seth has expanded into new and varied areas where he has found a great deal of satisfaction. Seth currently teaches in the Sociology Department of CUNY Queens College. His courses include "Mass Media and Popular Culture," "Introduction to Sociology," and "Sociology of Cinema" where he is a very popular teacher. Seth is also the film critic for "Town & Village," a Manhattan weekly newspaper, a position he has held for the past six years. Seth gives back to his community through volunteer teaching at Manhattan's "The Caring Community," a center for senior citizens, where he teaches a very popular course on documentaries called "The Golden Age of the Documentary. In the fall of 2010 Seth taught "Critical Reading and Writing" at Parsons School of Design. He has also taught "Cinema Studies" at the New York Film Academy. Seth lives in Stuyvesant Town, in Manhattan.

Posted on February 11, 2012, in New and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: