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Haywire - Blu-ray Review

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Haywire - Blu-ray Review

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4 stars

The fine art of deconstruction has a name and it is Haywire.

Director Steven Soderbergh has found himself a brand new muse.  Mixed Martial Arts champion, Gina Carano steps out of the ring and in front of his camera for Haywire, a revenge-driven action movie that plays as a low-key homage to some old school spy thrillers.  Peppered with A-listers like Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, and Ewan McGregor, Carano holds her own inside a script that mixes silence with plenty of action.  There may be some limitation to her acting chops, but Soderbergh’s textured direction recovers what she sometimes fumbles.

International espionage gets bone-breaking and compelling under the freelance operations of Mallory Kane (Carano).  She does the dirty work most governments won’t claim responsibility for and in Barcelona her story – concerning the almost failed kidnapping of a Chinese journalist Jiang (Anthony Brandon Wong) – for the United States - begins.

Of course the story is a flashback (a scene of near silence and slow-motion that is a minor masterwork from Soderbergh, by the way); her version of events told to a patron of the diner where she just took down her colleague Aaron (Channing Tatum).  It was supposed to be a nice gathering.  Aaron’s assignment was an easy one.  Sent from their boss, Kenneth (McGregor), with the bring her in or kill her line, Aaron discovers just how touchy Mallory is about having no choice.

From Barcelona the story jumps back to the fleeing car, where inside, the white-knuckled patron, Scott (Michael Angarano), hears of her meeting with an MI6 operative, Paul (Michael Fassbender) as they take on Mr. Studer (Mathieu Kassovitz).  Scott, now bandaging her arm, is told to memorize every name and place she tells him; a tall order.  Things get complicated fast.

Haywire works as well as it does because everything about it seems so organic.  From the natural lighting to the gritty realism of the well-staged fights, the movie is more lean muscle than most can handle.  It’s a minimalist approach to some good old fashioned spy tactics.  Even its central focus, the casting of Carano, makes for a nice canvas to let the film play out on.  She’s no star; there’s no association that can damage the film’s credibility.  She’s legit and so is Haywire.

The soundtrack – courtesy of David Holmes (the man behind the groove of the Ocean 11 movies) is a blazing throwback, but dialogue is down and so should be your expectations for where you think the movie is heading (or should I say in how it gets to where it is going?).  Soderbergh is fully committed to this vision of the world; a vision he has replicated in almost every single movie he has made.

Make no bones about it, Haywire is a massive hit upside the head delivered by Hollywood’s most unpredictable director.

{2jtab: Film Details}

Haywire - Blu-ray ReviewMPAA Rating: R for some violence.
Director
: Steven Soderbergh
Writer: Lem Dobbs
Cast:
Gina Carano; Ewan McGregor; Michael Fassbender; Michael Angarano; Antonio Banderas; Michael Douglas
Genre: Action | Thriller
Tagline:
They left her no choice.
Memorable Movie Quote: "You shouldn't think of her as being a woman. That would be a mistake."
Theatrical Distributor:
Relativity Media
Home Video Distributor: Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Official Site: www.haywiremovie.com
Release Date:
January 20, 2012
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
May 1, 2012

Synopsis: Mallory Kane is a highly trained operative who works for a government security contractor in the dirtiest, most dangerous corners of the world. After successfully freeing a Chinese journalist held hostage, she is double crossed and left for dead by someone close to her in her own agency. Suddenly the target of skilled assassins who know her every move, Mallory must find the truth in order to stay alive.

Using her black-ops military training, she devises an ingenious—and dangerous—trap. But when things go haywire, Mallory realizes she'll be killed in the blink of an eye unless she finds a way to turn the tables on her ruthless adversary.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

Haywire - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
4 stars

3 Stars



Blu-ray Experience
3.5 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - May 1, 2012
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles
: English, English SDH, Spanish
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD); Digital copy (as download)
Encoding: Region A (reviewed)

With fine detail amped up to the max, Lionsgate releases Haywire with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.40:1 that might just whisk away your breath.  Yes, it’s that rich in texture, tone, and ambience.  Colors are bright and exact, speaking to Soderbergh’s eye for natural expression and light; locations are used to their maximum effect and colors glide from steel blue to harvest yellow.  Sometimes shadows interfere with the edges of the camera’s frame, but – as this is naturally lit – those moments are to be expected.  Still, from the absolute beginning to the all-too-soon conclusion – the detail is more than enough to make this release a beauty.  The impressive transfer is complete with a wonderfully engaged lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that does more than its fair share of rattling the senses.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Not here.

Special Features:

This release feels a bit bare-boned.  There are two featurettes, but neither one cracks the surface enough to be too terribly satisfying.  The first (and best) one features extended interviews with Carano and her trainers and tackles (see what I did there?) the big fight scenes in the movie, highlighting all the training and practice that went into making them look legit.  It is followed by a clip from a panel hosted by Soderbergh who explains why he cast Carano.  Unfortunately, right when it gets really interesting, the featurette ends.  The second one features short interviews with Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Channing Tatum, and Antonio Banderas.  Yawn.

  • Gina Carano in Training (16 min)
  • The Men of ‘Haywire’ (5 min)

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