Wednesday, February 15, 2012

3 Short Paragraphs: Haywire

2011, Steven Soderbergh (Contagion, the Ocean's movies, Traffic) -- cinema

When I walked out of the theatre I mentioned, "I always like compact movies." I wasn't just referring to the shoebox cinema I was just in but the nature of the movie.  To me, a compact movie has a very tight focus and doesn't stray from it with multiple plotlines, a big cast and flashy scenes.  The story is all we need to see. For example, in this movie, she is an agent working for a security company, a specialist security company that does spy-like work.  She is betrayed. She seeks revenge.  That is it. But it's more than enough.

Mallory is not the killer whose moral values I normally wrestle with in these killer movies.  I have a couple more to relate in the next few days, so you will be reminded of what I mean.  You can also peek back at the blurbs on The Baker, Knight and Day, and Killers should you be interested.  But in this one, we know she has the skills to be an assassin for hire but we get the impression that is not the job she choses.  The first we see her perform is a rescue and the next she is assigned is a baby-sitting job... protection?  Once the betrayal ballet is in full performance, we see she is more than capable of such jobs.

Mallory is played by Gina Carano, highlighted for her mixed martial arts career but probably more remembered for being an American Gladiator.  Thus she is familiar with hurting people with her body and it lends itself to the very tight, very compact, combat sequences. She is not a Jason Bourne superhero but uses the same moves over and over to disable as quickly as she can. Her hits have weight and power. They crunch. They make us cringe. But she is not perfect. When we see her race across rooftops in Dublin, we don't see amazing escapades of parkour but just a very-much-in-shape person climbing and jumping and not always making the best decision. That she is human, that she loves her dad (yay, Bill Paxton!) and that she makes sure her inadvertent hostage gets a new car makes us like this killer.