By now, anyone who has been paying any attention will have noticed that, with Steven Soderbergh, things are not so much about the result as they are about the process, and about the ways he uses to rethink the process in order to arrive at a better, more efficient, more streamlined result. Every time Mr. Soderbergh has taken on a classic Hollywood genre, whether it is the heist movie (Ocean's Eleven), the social melodrama (Erin Brockovich) or the disaster movie (Contagion), the result has always brought genre down to its essential constituents, and Haywire is no exception.

     A stripped-down, fighting-fit action movie that is all movement, where genre tropes are pared down to their minimal building blocks before being reassembled into a non-stop kinetic action-painting, Haywire doubles as a launch vehicle for MMA fighter Gina Carano, demonstrating wonderful poise in a role designed to show her physical chops at her best. As concocted by recurring Soderbergh screenwriter Lem Dobbs, Haywire's plot - a double-crossed black-ops mercenary goes in search of those who framed her and left her out to dry - is a merely utilitarian excuse for a high-voltage sequence of action set pieces laid out end to end.

     What makes Haywire extraordinary is the way Mr. Soderbergh - again doing triple duty as director, cinematographer and editor - manoeuvres masterfully through them, playing at first with a flashback structure before ejecting any sort of superfluous exposition to leave only a continuous flow of superbly choreographed and edited action scenes that run against current Hollywood grain. Instead of the flashy effects and speedy editing of modern-day auctioneers, everything here is clearly legible and almost natural, hyper-classic in the way it's a throwback to classic Hollywood action set-ups and paradoxically modern in the way it breaks step with the way everybody else us doing it, in how it relishes the kinetic freedom it gains by stripping genre down to the basics. The result is breathtaking.

Gina Carano, Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Bill Paxton, Channing Tatum, Mathieu Kassovitz, Michael Angarano; Antonio Banderas; Michael Douglas.
     Director, cinematographer (as Peter Andrews) and editor (as Mary Ann Bernard), Steven Soderbergh (color, processing by Technicolor, Panavision widescreen); screenplay, Lem Dobbs; music, David Holmes; designer, Howard Cummings; costumes, Shoshana Rubin; producer, Gregory Jacobs (Relativity Media with the participation of the Irish Film Board), USA/Ireland, 2012, 93 minutes.
     Screened: distributor advance press screening, Zon Lusomundo Colombo 10, April 10th 2012.


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