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June 17, 2024

Haywire: Hey, Yeah!

By Bernie and Sand Pilarski

Rated R

Bernie said:

I know guys who go to see movies simply to see good looking women playing the role of tough guy -- a woman in the role of Bruce Willis in Bruce Willis-type movies. Maybe a less sexist way of putting it is to say there are guys who enjoy Lara Croft type movies, ones that have a strong no-holds-barred-take-no-prisoners beautiful woman in the lead. Angelina Jolie has carried it off in several movies like her two latest films, Salt and The Tourist, not to mention that she was indeed the celluloid version of Lara Croft herself. Milla Jovovitch has quite a cult following for her portrayal of Alice in the Resident Evil franchise, and Kate Beckinsale has achieved similar status in the Underworld movies.

Unlike these guys, I would never go to a movie just because there was a totally hot chick in it, and she can totally kick butt which only goes to make her hotter because there is just something about a girl that can wear short skirts but who you could totally feel good about taking to a bar fight. That's just not me; I don't understand that thinking; I just wouldn't do it. But I would go see a Michael Douglas movie in a minute, so this past week Sand and I went off to see Haywire. There is nothing prurient about Michael except that he is married to Katherine Zeta Jones, not that I'd go see her in a movie either.

Haywire doesn't have as much to do with Michael Douglas as you might expect from a Michael Douglas film. Instead, it has a lot more to do with the character named Mallory who is a hired gun type who works for one of those shadowy private military groups that contract with the government to do stuff that the government doesn't really want to be involved in so they just hire somebody to do it. In this case, however, Mallory's employer sets her up to take the blame for some really nasty stuff and then tries to kill her off. She is understandably upset, and sets out to find out why, which eventually leads her back to Michael Douglas, but he really doesn't have much to do with this story.

I can imagine that there was a meeting somewhere to pitch this movie idea, and the writers were saying "We got this girl who, like, totally kicks the butt of this bad guy, and then yada yada yada, she ends up having to really kick butt for a while, then yada yada yada, the plot twist comes in and she ends up the bad guy and has to kick butt to clear herself, and then yada yada yada, she finds out who did it and kills him in a really kick butt fight on the beach."

One of the money guys must have had a fascination with the yada yada yada bits, because for those bits they got two-time Oscar winner Michael Douglas, a star on two continents Antonio Banderas, Michael Fassbender who has actually shown Little Michael to the world in another movie, and Ewan McGregor who had once actually been Obi-Wan Kenobi. For all the girl scenes, they went past the obvious choices and picked Gina Carano, who has never even been to Tatooine and you have never heard of unless you follow the sport of Mixed Martial Arts.

So, the movie goes something like this:

Gina Carano: Runs, kicks, punches, climbs walls, shoots things, drives fast cars fast, loves really hot and sexy, maybe saying something, maybe not.
Michael Douglas: "Yada, yada, yada."
Fassbender: "Has anyone seen my yada, yada, yada?"
Banderas: "You remember me, no? I yam Puss ... in Boots!"
McGregor: "Yoda, yoda, yoda."

Repeat several times.

Does it work?

Strangely, yes. Gina Carano is good in this part because she can run well and she can convince you that she could kick butt. That may be all she can do as an actress, but then can any more be said of John Wayne? She seems to be someone who is not afraid of taking risks in her career choices, so maybe she'll be back again, but at least for the moment, she has provided us with one performance that was sufficiently entertaining as to warrant spending a couple hours in the theater with a bag of popcorn.

Is there anything else that commends this film. No, not really. I realize that's not a ringing endorsement of this movie, but if you want to go see a movie where a strong no-holds-barred-take-no-prisoner woman beats up a bunch of people and looks really hot in the process, this just may be your type of movie.

I liked it -- for the Michael Douglas bits of course. I didn't even notice Carano was a woman until Sand told me.

Sand said:

Yeah, right.

There aren't many female action heroes out there that are at all believable in motion pictures.

Now, you can say that "action hero" is a label that is completely fictional anyway, and so Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone, The Rock, and all their male beat-up-the-bad-guys ilk are silly and unreal, and you'd be right. But lovers of "action films" accept the actors as being the embodiment of their film counterparts. They're tough, they can take a beating and come back for more, they're triumphant. Tough men. Muscles. Fighting skills. But what about the women who are fighters?

Well, there's Uma Thurman in Kill Bill, and Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft in Tomb Raider, and Milla Jovovich in Resident Evil. I'm thinking that Gina Carano, as Mallory Kane in Haywire, is right up there.

Is this a good movie? Nahhhhhhh. Is this a ground-breaking movie? No, don't be silly, all action movies are pretty much the same premise: Hero performs heroically, hero gets thrown under the bus, hero escapes the bus and goes after the throwers. Yeah. That's why we go see action-hero movies. (Well, actually, I went to see this one because I wanted to go to the movies and eat popcorn for breakfast, but you get my drift.)

What tipped this action-hero movie in my favor was that Gina Carano was not shown fighting in stiletto heels. She had high heels in one scene, but took them off to fight. Duhh! A female fight scene with some sensibility! Looking at the trailers for this film, I thought to myself that a woman fighter who could actually use non-sexual footgear while fighting might be worth watching.

While accepting that there was nothing Oscar-worthy in Haywire, I must admit that I was thoroughly entertained by it. Carano as Mallory Kane was nicely hard-boiled, and although lovely, didn't try to make beauty her redeeming factor. She's an ex-Marine, and look out, bad guys, lady Marines-turned-professional-operatives are something to be reckoned with.

I would rate this on a par with RED, a movie of assassinations that deserves an R rating because of the killing, but a movie that is entertaining nevertheless.

Mallory Kane's interaction with her father is priceless, and if the Hollywood powers that be decide to make a sequel, I'd go see it.

Go, Mallory, go. Beat the crap out of the baddies.

Oh. A postscript. This movie, as far as our Friday morning movie budget goes, won out over The Grey because although having a higher rating from movie-goers, The Grey portrays wolves in a stupid and unrealistic fashion. Wolves in The Grey, according to the trailers, are right on par with werewolves in Underworld, and that is just so damn ignorant I would have no part in it, nor spend a dime supporting it.

You want wolves? Read Farley Mowat's book, Never Cry Wolf.

Or forget the wolves, and go see Haywire. It's more believable.

Article © Bernie and Sand Pilarski. All rights reserved.
Published on 2012-01-30
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