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Here’s a puzzler for you. How do you make a mediocre film when your cast is filled with A-list talent? Just ask Steven Soderbergh. In his latest clunker, the Ocean’s 11 director lays all his bets on the non-actress MMA fighter Gina Carano. Despite a supporting team of Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Michael Fassbender, Channing Tatum, Ewan McGregor and Bill Paxton, he tones down their talent, dumbing down their potential to stoic performances played alongside his patented jazzy piano drones. Instead, we get Carano who does not have the charisma or quite frankly, the grade school ability to play the badass renegade CIA agent. She’d have trouble playing a tree at a middle school play.

Marketed as Jason Bourne with tits, Haywire tells the story of a super soldier who seeks revenge on the agency that blackmailed her. Sounds awesome, right? Don’t be fooled. There are less then 15 minutes of legitimate action in this plodding, yawn-filled movie. Most of it is incomprehensible, overdrawn plot line explainers that make no difference because I’m too busy trying not to laugh at Carano’s “acting”. It’s like she won a national sweepstakes to star in a movie with actors featured on GQ. And then it’s like Soderbergh went to each of his beautiful, talented stars and said “Look guys, she’s just a kid. Ease it up on her, okay? Forget about the awards you’ve won. This movie isn’t about you.”

There is one piece of silver lining I can offer. The 15 minutes of action, albeit short, are incredible. The fight scenes are sleek and smooth, sensible and realistic — the complete opposite effect that the rest of the film had. But this is the result when you hire an MMA fighter to do what she does best: umm, fight. But when you hire her to act, you might as well hire Tracy Morgan to do your lighting.

People may be tempted to compare this film to last year’s Drive or 2010’s The American, both personal favorites that that were likewise mis-marketed as action movies only to prove far slower and indie and artsy than anyone could have ever imagined. But here’s a difference between those near-masterpieces to Haywire. What Drive and The American lack in action, they make up for in character development and relational buildup (led by the equally brooding Ryan Gosling and George Clooney). What Haywire lacks in action, it makes it up with drawn-out dialogue from a woman that makes Sasha Grey look like an Oscar contender. O wait.


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