Get out your [POW! KICK! PUNCH-IN-THE-FACE!]...Ow! This movie just kicked my butt! Did you see that?! Get back here, Haywire!
|EDIT: I finally finished the illustrated version! If you look closely, you can see the different techniques I went through.|
Mallory Kane (Gina Carano), a freelance covert operative, is quitting her company and going to work for herself. When she's talked into working one last case, she finds out she was set up and betrayed by her boss, Kenneth (Ewan McGregor). Now she's on the run, trying to clear her name and unravel a conspiracy while beating up guys every step of the way!
This did not feel like an over-the-top, mainstream action movie, and that's what I loved about it. It has this great, classic style about it and this homey feel. Its shots are set up better and it almost feels like a minimalist noir thriller rather than a slick action movie. It's light on the dialogue and heavy on the intrigue. That's not surprising since it's directed by Steven Soderbergh, who directed the first Ocean's Eleven. From all the action in the trailer, it has a lot more espionage-esque intrigue than I thought it would. And that's not a bad thing. There are some movies that lie about how much action they have when it's really just slow, but it's not slow. The pacing and flow are perfect and there's just enough action.
Since Carano does all her own stunts, they have this homey, organic feel to them. They look realistic, not over the top. They don't have the brutality of some other action movies. Instead, it looks like what would happen if you put a bunch of real-life, mixed martial artists into an action movie. How raw the fighting can get kind of throws you off, but this is definitely one of those art house action movies you'd likey see in another country or as an independent film.
It's amazingly well shot. I haven't been this in love with a film's cinematography since Drive, but more than that, it reminds me of a classic noir film like Detour or The Set-Up. The way they set things up, frame the action, use minimal cutting and interesting camera angles, it's all gorgeous. I would have loved to see the storyboards on this. One of my favorite scenes is when Mallory is in a car chase with the police in this snowy forest. The camera is in the back seat, watching her and her passenger, but then they see a police car coming for them! Mallory backs up, the police keep driving and the camera stays in place. The seats are framing Mallory and the passenger who are, in turn, framing the oncoming police car. It's brilliant.
This has a surprisingly good cast and they all do a stand-up job. Carano, who makes her acting debut in this, plays her part straightforward and she's a ton of fun. I was afraid Michael Angarano was going to be the quirky boyfriend, but he barely has a part. Also, Michael Fassbender is Michael Fassbender, and that's always a good thing. The only regrettable acting comes from Channing Tatum. I probably shouldn't expect much but, especially in the beginning, he just seemed like he was reading off his lines that he'd just written on his hand.
The only aspect of the film I didn't like was the structure. It became very muddled in the middle to end, so much so that I was sure a certain scene was the climax, but then it keeps going. Not to say that I want it to be super obvious where the middle and end are, but there should be a feeling of build-up and a sense of where we are in the adventure. The ending is also kind of silly and weird for me, but not so much that it ruins the rest of the movie.
The soundtrack is amazing. I can see this easily being in my top 10 for the year. It's classic heist music, like a 70's Ocean's Eleven. Very slick and very catchy. I highly recommend picking it up.
THE GOOD: Great action, beautiful cinematography, amazing soundtrack.
THE BAD: Poor structure, Channing Tatum.
OVERALL: It's a fun, little action thriller and I highly recommend you see it! This is easily my favorite movie this year, so far.
MOVIES LIKE IT: Ocean's Eleven, Drive, Kill Bill, SaltONE-SCENE METAPHOR: Mallory walks out of a hotel and starts walking down the street. There's no music and it feels very tense as she looks to the people on the street, trying to decipher who, if anyone, is following her. She finally catches eye of someone tailing her and starts into a sequence of running, rooftop parkour, and beating the crap out of SWAT guys.