Haywire Movie Review: Redefining the Action Thriller

If Haywire does not make a star out of Gina Carano, it is a high cinematic crime. Director Steven Soderbergh built an entire movie around the MMA star and she delivers. In fact, we cannot think of a more explosive film debut in recent memory.

Michael Douglas and Gina Carano in Haywire
Haywire follows Mallory Kane, one of the best at what she does for a government security contractor. She is a highly trained operative and goes to all corners of the world to bring justice where the U.S. cannot because of geopolitical sensitivity.

Soderbergh balances a narrative that flashes backwards and forwards, all events colored by “what happened in Barcelona.” Mallory, near the beginning of the story, is at a remote diner in upstate New York when Channing Tatum walks in and she looks less than thrilled to see him. He’s a “company” man and Mallory figures she will be brought in or die trying to avoid such a fate.

What happens next we’ve shown you in our first five minutes clip from Haywire, and the piece really sets the tone for the film. Soderbergh is a master at work on his latest and the way he weaves the action and plot movement is simply stellar. The director is firing, literally, on all cylinders and Haywire is one of his best (what are Soderbergh’s top 10 movies?).

The soundtrack has an almost Oceans 11 type of feel and the picture moves in the same slick manner. But Haywire is a much different piece of work and marks a triumphant arrival of the director in the action genre. The choreography on the fight sequences is brilliantly good, where the audience is continually holding our breath until each segment is complete. We can already say with great confidence that Haywire will land on our Top 10 Action Movies of 2012.

Supporting Carano in the cast, beyond the terrific Tatum, is Michael Douglas as a government agent who himself is trying to get to the bottom of the mystery. Antonio Banderas is a Spanish intelligence official who may or may not be helping or hindering that effort and in a tiny role, Michael Fassbender rivets.

Then, there’s Ewan McGregor. The actor shows a side of his performance palette that is astounding. His characterization is equally compelling, creepy and charismatic while utterly disarming to the audience. Is he on Mallory’s side? He owns the agency that she works for, but there is a hint of devilish delight in his bravado that leaves us guessing until the very end.

Haywire bucks the popular consensus that January is where studios sometimes go to dump their films that are so-so. It crackles with excitement around every turn. Lem Dobbs’ script (he previously wrote Soderbergh’s The Limey and Kafka) takes the cat-and-mouse element that when done right on film is pure bliss, and brings it to a whole new level.

The star of the film, even with all the superstars in the cast, is Carano. It is not only her fight sequences that feel so real that you marvel at her athletic prowess, but in the softer scenes it is easy to see that anyone who walks out of Haywire has just been treated to a “star is born” arrival. That is Haywire’s greatest accomplishment — it captures lightning in a bottle. And as most film fans know, that is indeed the rarest of moments.

Hunger Games Picture: Katniss All Dolled Up

Jennifer Lawrence and her co-star Josh Hutcherson are looking wild in a new picture from The Hunger Games that appeared in Entertainment Weekly. The duo, who play Katniss and Peeta, are looking quite serious in the latest still from one of the most highly anticipated movies of 2012. Note that this is also one of our first looks at Lenny Kravitz as Cinna (far right).

Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Lenny Kravitz in The Hunger Games
Director Gary Ross talked to the magazine about what Cinna is doing in the above still and Katniss and Peeta’s outfits. “What Cinna was trying to do wsa create something that came out of District 12, out of a coal mining world, with a fresh bold look to it,” Ross said. “So Judianna (costume designer) went to this wonderful black reflective material that glistened like coal or graphite and would obviously work well in the Tribute parade where Katniss becomes the Girl on Fire.”

Could we get any more excited for The Hunger Games?

Could Twilight Saga Continue After Breaking Dawn?

After Lionsgate acquired Summit Entertainment last week, the studio’s president, Jon Feltheimer, looked at Summit’s film library and thought one thing:

Why does the Twilight Saga have to end when Breaking Dawn Part 2 lands in theaters November 16?

When a franchise makes $700 million with each go-around, it seems silly to stop making them just because the book series that they’re based on has completed. Sound crazy? Felthemier doesn’t think so.

Bella Swan Photo
“It’s hard for me to imagine a movie that does $700 million-plus doesn’t have ongoing value,” he said. “It’s an amazing franchise that they have done a great job of maintaining with absolutely no deterioration. So the simple answer is, ‘Boy I hope so.’”

With those words, millions of Twilight fans began to drool. There are dozens of storylines that could be explored in the saga, not the least of which is the wolf pack and maybe even Renesme (Edward and Bella’s baby) as a grown vampire-human hybrid. Who knows?

“Maybe go back into some of the back stories,” Feltheimer suggested. “There’s been talk of shorts and different new media, too.”

So, what do you think? Would you want more Twilight?

Red Tails Trailer: Exploring Courage

Red Tails tells the true story of the men of the Tuskegee training program, the first African-American pilots to fly in combat.

George Lucas has taken on the task of bringing the real life World War II heroes story to the big screen and has enlisted some top notch talent in that effort. Movie Fanatic has the trailer for you, and stay with us for our review from the film that lands in theaters January 20.

Lucas serves as producer and his handprints are all over the film (stay with Movie Fanatic for our review this week). The aerial fight sequences are off the charts and recall some of his best work since that little sci-fi movie series he created (vote for your favorite Star Wars movie).

Red Tails stars Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard, Ne-Yo, Bryan Cranston, Tristan Wilds, Rick Otto, Nate Paker, Michael B. Jordan and Kevin Phillips.

Resident Evil: Retribution Trailer is Here!

The first trailer for Resident Evil: Retribution (check out a set video!) has arrived and although we don’t get too much of a glimpse into the fifth installment in the series, it is quite clever. Yes, it begins with an ad for Sony, but the catchphrase in that ad leads into Milla Jovovich’s first lines in the teaser. 

Resident Evil: Retribution arrives on screens in September and here’s the synopsis:

The wildly successful film franchise adaptation that has grossed nearly $700 million worldwide to the  popular video game series, Resident Evil, returns in its highly anticipated fifth installment, Resident Evil: Retribution in state-of-the art 3D.

The Umbrella Corporation’s deadly T-virus continues to ravage the Earth, transforming the global population into legions of the flesh eating Undead. The human race’s last and only hope, Alice (Jovovich), awakens in the heart of Umbrella’s most clandestine operations facility and unveils more of her mysterious past as she delves further into the complex. Without a safe haven, Alice continues to hunt those responsible for the outbreak; a chase that takes her from Tokyo to New York, Washington, D.C. and Moscow, culminating in a mind-blowing revelation that will force her to rethink everything that she once thought to be true. Aided by newfound allies and familiar friends, Alice must fight to survive long enough to escape a hostile world on the brink of oblivion. The countdown has begun.