It was worth sitting through this overly ambitious, and ultimately unsatisfying, low-budget supernatural horror mystery hodge-podge to hear Henry Rollins’ ‘Jack’ deadpan the list of jobs he’s had in his lifetime. But I’m a masochist like that sometimes. There’s nothing else I can recommend about a film that’s too self-conscious about its style, from the forced quirky dialogue to the oppressive soundtrack, to leave any lasting impression.
It’s not hard to fathom why Winter’s Bone was Jennifer Lawrence’s breakout performance, as she commands practically every scene of this gritty ‘country noir’ drama as an assertive teenager, wise beyond her years and her upbringing, cutting through the bullshit of a backwards backwoods community to keep the family home after her father fucks things up royally. Why writer/director Debra Granik didn’t enjoy the same career boost is disappointing, but telling of a system that saw fit to keep Lawrence in supporting or co-lead roles for years after.
Contrary to its title, Haywire is a lot more low-key than you might expect, with plenty of mumblecore noir (underlined by the smoky David Holmes soundtrack) between its few explosive Bourne-inspired action moments, including a breathtaking chase around the streets of Dublin of all places (I smirked when the heroine caught a taxi in the rat-run behind the old HMV shop on Grafton Street).
When the action does heat up, it’s a step above thanks to the MMA talents of star Gina Carano, who makes up for what she lacks in acting chops with quietly commanding presence, more than able to stand with the big name cast around her, from Michaels Douglas and Fassbender to Channing Tatum, Antonio Banderas, Ewan McGregor and the great Bill Paxton. Carano’s a proper badass, but who’s gonna know when people think feminism in action movies began with Max Mad: Fury Road?
No one does ensemble pieces like Steven Soderbergh, and this one is a doozy – a pandemic drama that eschews sensationalism for a more realistic supposition of what might happen, and is no less thrilling for it. Nice use of casting against type, too, with Demetri Martin only one of a number of usually comic performers getting to show their normal side. Also: wash your fucking hands, people.