Director Steven Soderbergh's latest effort, Haywire, is a superspy-gone-rogue thriller that tries to be slick but ends up underdeveloped and a little too paint-by-numbers.
MMA fighter Gina Carano stars as Mallory, a "private contractor" brought in by the government to resolve sticky situations. She's (now, pretend to be shocked here) betrayed by her employer (Ewan McGregor), and is now out for revenge.
The problem is, we've seen this movie before, and Soderbergh doesn't really shake things up enough to make this film different. You'd think that spy agencies would take the hint and stop trying to kill their best agents by this point.
Indeed, this movie is more of the same, but less. All of the characters seem under-characterized and lack motivation. Mallory is, of course, driven by revenge, but she's oddly incurious about why she's been sold out — the question doesn't even seem to occur to her until it's suggested by Michael Douglas' government bureaucrat.
The bad guys are said to be motivated by money, but it's never made clear why they'd be paid for all of this. Some degree of ambiguity is, indeed, to be expected in a spy film, but at some point it feels less like "a shadowy world of intrigue" and more like "too lazy to develop this plot/character." A 93-minute movie should never feel this sparse.
All this makes it hard to care about what happens to these characters — the fate of the free world isn't at stake, the main character never seems quite human and no one comes across as likable. There are some talented actors involved here (Douglas, Michael Fassbender, Antonio Banderas), but they're not given much to do.
The action is well-executed, and Carano handles herself excellently in some particularly brutal fistfights. A number of these sequences, though, are shot are shot disconcertingly — the film seems to neglect showing the action well in favor of self-consciously "artistic" shots. I noticed a few instances in which Soderbergh broke the 180-degree rule for no discernible reason.
Haywire looks nice, but it's effectively empty — it's slick, but there's not enough to care about here.
Haywire is rated R.