XCN Film Club: Haywire
Haywire is a confusing film. From the start the story is fairly impenetrable, throwing the audience into an unexplained fight scene and then launching into a Princess Bride style narrative that lays out a complex tale of deceit, intrigue and betrayal about as comprehensible to me as hieroglyphics are to a 3 year old.
The story follows Mallory Kane, played by Gina Carano, an ex military agent turned freelancer. Kane goes rogue when she is betrayed by her handler Kenneth, who is played well by Ewan McGregor. After her betrayal by Kenneth Kane goes on a rampage, killing as many people as she can in a quest for revenge.
The film is dark and broody and broody for the most part, chock full of greys and browns. It radiates a gritty feel, but it does mean that a lot of the film feels blurred and indistinct, and when the fight scenes do crop up suffer the same fate. Drab characters struggling against a dark background drains all the impact from the scene, and the film suffers because of it.
The film opens with Kane looking haggard and obviously tired, and when she meets Aaron, another agent, it’s obvious that she’s been through a lot. Stiff dialogue between the two quickly erupts into a fight that sees Kane beaten about before coming back and winning the fight.
Unfortunately this sets a precedent for the rest of the film. The vast majority of the film seems to be a string of fight sequences linked together by a load of babble that does little to explain why the fights happen. Not only that, most of the fights follow the same pattern; Kane gets hit for a while, then comes back to knock her attacker out. It makes it all a bit predictable and drains all of whatever tension there was from the film.
On top of that a good portion of the film is told in the retrospective, with jarring jumps back and forth in time. The parts that are in the past are full of ‘artistic’ camera shots, including black and white freeze frames and sharp changes of angle. With the odd music choice – it wouldn’t have been out of place in a 70s Spy Film – it all just feels like a bad parody of a spy film at times.
When the film does return to the current times it sets a gloomy scene as Kane wades through dozens of enemies on her quest for revenge. Ultimately however, this is where the film really starts to show some cracks, as Carano is comprehensively out-acted by McGregor, whose portrayal of Kenneth is great. He gives the character emotion that most of the others lacked, and by the end of the film I almost found myself rooting for him simply because he felt more like a real person than anyone else.
There are also cameos from the big names of Antonio Banderas and Michael Fassbender. Banderas plays the old wolf, an experienced operative who helps Kenneth betray Kane. Fassbender also plays an operative, and is the most convincing of the lot. He has that suave and dangerous air that is expected of an operative and he too outdoes the macho Carano.
Carano’s saving grace is the air that she projects. She seems more dangerous than any of the other characters, and her fights are brutal for the most part, though she takes almost as damage much as she dishes out. Despite the fact that the fights do seem brutal, they quickly become familiar and dull, and Carano’s limited acting abilities can do little to cover the shortfall.
The real and overriding issue though, is the story that Haywire is trying to tell. It’s unoriginal, badly scripted and slightly bewildering in the way that they tell it. They don’t engage the audience, and that lack of engagement means that the audience doesn’t have any incentive to care about what happens.
This is the problem that Haywire has. The film is unspectacular and ultimately, it’s boring. There is nothing that gets you invested in the characters or to make you care about the story. The confused storytelling only makes this worse and the film winds up feeling a little dull. There is little in the way of impact and the dialogue is stiff and unexciting, and the fact that the film closes with an exposition is damning evidence of its impenetrable plot. There are bright lights of course – Ewan McGregor is a fantastic villain and Michael Fassbender is a mighty fine operative – but they can do little to improve the scripting of the film. In the end it doesn’t do justice to the ability and talent that the cast brings to the film. I really wanted to like this film, but it didn’t entertain me so much as bewilder me.
Haywire is a confusing film.
Haywire can be purchased from the Zune store for 1770 Microsoft Points.
Xboxer Score: 3/5