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Gina Carano
Antonio Banderas
Michael Douglas
Bill Paxton
Ewan McGregor
Michael Fassbender
Channing Tatum
Steven Soderbergh.
Running Time
92 minutes

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Meet Mallory: she can kick Chuck Norris’ ass

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Double-crossed during a job in Dublin, black ops agent Mallory (Carano) kicks and punches her way to the top of a global espionage agency in search of answers. It’s payback time, and she doesn’t do dresses...

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So, the story goes that Steven Soderbergh hit on the idea for Haywire while he was loafing in front of some Saturday night telly. Starting up on CBS was a female-only ultimate fighting gala. Up stepped the formidable Gina Carano. It was, for Soderbergh, love at first strike, but the question he asked was this: “How come Angelina Jolie’s the only woman allowed to run around with a gun and beat people up?” Haywire is his answer, and Jolie better renew her gym membership.

Similar to his casting of adult star Sasha Grey for The Girlfriend Experience, Soderbergh has tailor-made an entire movie around an untested talent. Almost inevitably, Carano makes up for in presence what she lacks in range — her line delivery remains cold and curt throughout — but Soderbergh’s surrounded her with so much star wattage, if you put them all in a room they’d probably vaporise each other. McGregor, Fassbender, Douglas, Tatum, Paxton, Banderas, Kassovitz... It’s almost like a thinking man’s Expendables, and part of the film’s fun is watching the A list go B movie with a Z-list lead. And they all, eventually, have fear in their eyes — even Bill Paxton, as Carano’s dad. “Don’t think of her as being a woman,” advises Ewan McGregor, who registers strongly as a slippery agent. “That would be a mistake.”

Indeed. With her nutcracker thighs, bolting fists and suspicious eyes, Carano gives some deliberately orthodox payback material a raw, volatile edge. As she tumbles from Barcelona to New York to Dublin, a tension follows wherever she goes, as if a brawl could kick off at any moment. And when it does, it’s rough-and-tumble realism, Bourne-style, and so well choreographed you don’t notice they’re choreographed. Carano’s nickname in the ring is ‘Conviction’ and you soon get why — when she fights, you feel the walls shake. Dynamic though the action is, what the film never quite achieves (and so often promises) is that thumping heart-rate moment. It’s just a little too cool to get your blood rushing.

Still, for anybody who follows Soderbergh, this has a familiar feel — there’s a nimble time-tripping structure, his signature gold and cobalt visuals, a driving funk-fusion jam from composer of choice David Holmes and sinuous camerawork from the mysterious Peter Andrews, who’s never once been seen in the same room as Soderbergh. Who, by the way, has clearly had a good old dry laugh over making his first action movie. Rooftop escapes, car chases in reverse gear, a hostage rescue set to music and, typical of Soderbergh, a deadly master of international espionage called, er, Kenneth. Needless to say, great fun.

A fresh, muscular payback movie shot through with Soderbergh’s mischievous indie-spirit. Whether Gina Carano is the new Angelina or the new Cynthia Rothrock, only time will tell...

Reviewed by Simon Crook

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Haywire
Empire Star Rating

RE: Haywire

It may seem like this is merely an exercise in style and to be honest, it is. Soderbergh's clearly fascinated by the physicality of Carano as a fighter and Haywire's sole reason for existence is to highlight those skills. ... More

Posted by chang at 12:13, 31 December 2013 | Report This Post

RE: Haywire and a new breed of female hero

Just saw , and was blown away. Great acting, amazing action scenes, and truly incredible soundtrack. Being a big Soderbergh fan for years, this film definitely didn't dissapoint. The music seemed like it was almost retro, i.e. what you would hear in a '60's/'70's espionage/thriller/action film, though this was obviously set in the modern day. ... More

Posted by AnamorphicWidescreen at 02:55, 27 August 2013 | Report This Post

Haywire and a new breed of female hero

Just watched Haywire and I thought Gina Carano was amazing. Whether its writers, directors or movie moguls, most of Hollywood doesn’t seem to believe that women are capable of physically overpowering and defeating men, that they are naturally weaker because of their femaleness. But there is a series of characters, actresses and films/tv shows that are offering females who have no problem taking down their male opponents. Read more and comment at: ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by My Dream Tank at 17:26, 23 February 2013 | Report This Post


As far as plot and action go, this is your standard espionage. But Soderbergh knows how to stage the action in stylish fashion, and the cast is defiently better than average for Haywire. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by norgizfox at 03:47, 20 February 2013 | Report This Post

RE: Bland

I didn't think this was as bad as some of the above comments. Definitely a very average film at best but I did enjoy it. The fight between Carano (who does a decent job for her first film) and Fassbender is one of the best set pieces I've seen recently. Also I really enjoyed seeing Dublin up on the big screen, very surreal experience. ... More

Posted by musht at 21:10, 23 November 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Bland

I can only describe this film as like having a wank without finishing the job. ... More

Posted by UTB at 20:47, 23 November 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Bland

Just watched this last night and i really enjoyed it. Loved how it was a slow burn, it made a great change from most action films at the moment. I hate shaky cam action films. I want to see what is going on, i want to see the stunts and action in all there glory. This film does that. I would not say its a true action film and i think thats why a lot of people are dissappointed by it. It's a spy story with a few fight scences here and there. But what fight scences they are, very h... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by goldleader at 13:31, 22 October 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Bland

I am not certain how they did this but, although there is quite a lot of action, the film is just terminally dull. the action does not play out well. I have no empathy for any of the characters, which is never a good thing as it is just a bunch of people doing stuff I do not care about. Overall an incredibly bland film with a score which does not fit the film and my recommendation is avoid it unless you want to sleep. ... More

Posted by sanchia at 19:38, 07 October 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Bland

Just watched this last night (thankfully on lovefilm rather than buying it). It's one of the worst films I've seen in a very long time. The acting was horrendous, Carano is absolutely terrible with her monotone acting. She has no charisma whatsoever and I just couldn't side with her at all. The only decent acting came from Michael Douglas and Fassbender and they were used sparingly to say the least. The score is also horrible and just didn't fit with the films tone at all. Then there is the ... More

Posted by MuckyMuckMan at 10:27, 24 September 2012 | Report This Post


Very disappointing, it rolls along at a fair enough pace but there is no atmosphere at all, the soundtrack really doesn't work (I'm guessing the score was meant to cool it up but just doesn't fit) overall bland and so very similar in plot to countless other, better, films. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by mclane1 at 08:05, 26 May 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Haywire

Thanks for the review guys. Was in two minds about this one, but something was dissuading me from going to see it. ... More

Posted by TwistedAnimator at 10:21, 25 May 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Haywire

Was slightly disappointed by this. Was really expecting something in the vain of a Bourne film (not quite that good obviously, what is?) but it just felt a little flat. On the plus side Fassbender and McGregor are two actors I like and Channing Tatum has been putting in good performances recently. The main plus is I'm now aware of Gina Carano. Using the popular Angelina Jolie comparisons, Jolie is obviously the better actress ( don't see Carano doing a Changling or Girl, Interrupted any time so... More

Posted by drews at 06:10, 25 May 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Haywire

Just saw this tonight and it's a very minor work from Soderbergh. It's a sufficiently entertaining film, but for a thriller it's not all that thrilling and the bad guys are pretty bland. Carano is okay for someone who isn't a traditionally trained actress and she is quite impressive when it comes to kicking ass. I actually quite admire Soderbergh's intention to make a film based around a female character who doesn't adhere to the shallow male ideal of what an action heroine should be (ie: ... More

Posted by MonsterCat at 02:01, 24 May 2012 | Report This Post

One of the worst films I have seen. ... More

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Posted by jezy at 14:01, 22 May 2012 | Report This Post

One of the worst films I have seen. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jezy at 14:01, 22 May 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Haywire

Haywire Dear Mr Soderbergh, if you want to make a thrilling spy film then at least cast someone who can act in the lead! don't cast a so called mixed martial artist (this term is being banded around way too much these days), use them for stunt work. Yes Carano is fit firm and able to kick ass but her acting is wooden and stale which lets the whole thing down badly. This espionage thriller is slick and lean with no Hollywood nonsense, this ain't no Bay machine, this is more intone with... More

Posted by Phubbs at 18:29, 10 May 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Haywire

L: superdan L: clownfoot Also, have none of you heard of Cynthia Rothrock? saw a couple of films of hers when I was young and bang into martial arts, but I can't remember which ones. I do remember thinking they were shit though /quote]   To be fair, China O'brien is definitley in the so bad it's brilliant category. ... More

Posted by Discodez at 15:47, 23 April 2012 | Report This Post


I presumed this one was a flop for a reason. But then last night I decided to give it a shot anyway and after what felt like 15 minutes and the credits started rolling, I was smiling so much it kind of hurt a little. Some of the most fun I've had in a long, long time. Super funky editing and music, fantastic cinematography, a super cool badass lead and great action scenes. I don't watch everything Soderbergh does, but this one is up there with Out of Sight as one of his most pure... More

Posted by Proudfoot at 12:21, 22 April 2012 | Report This Post

Seen in cinema tonight: tp://]Haywiret even Soderbergh goes action. The idea of a female James Bond character is good and Gina Carano fits the lead role perfectly. The James Bond type of atmosphere is (next to the story of course) especially created by the score, wich I really liked. The abscence of that music in the fightscenes is what almost kills the film: at these moments the pace goes down and you almost look forward to the end of those fights. The story ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheGodfather at 23:28, 17 April 2012 | Report This Post

Haywire Review

Haywire has expert editing, fantastic cinematography, amazing actors, and awe-inspiring fight scenes. Unfortunately without a strong narrative the film can become difficult to watch in places, even if other aspects of the film are of a high standard. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by DaleLawson at 14:24, 11 March 2012 | Report This Post


I went to watch this to use up what was left on a Christmas giftcard - what a waste. I thought the premise for the film sounded good and it might be a smart action film; how wrong I was. Completely miscast, sluggish action, terrible editing, a woeful score and a truly terrible performance from the lead 'actress'. I know she is an MMA fighter, but putting her at the centre of the film was a crazy decision - wooden doesn't even come close to describing her acting. The only reason I didn't leave e... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by fredrico2k at 17:34, 12 February 2012 | Report This Post

4 Stars!?!?! Really?????

Not the sort of film I would generally go and see at the cinema, but I fancied a bit of an action film this weekend for fun & relaxtion. I had read the review from this glorious mag, sounded like a good option and recommended it to my lady and off we pop. Can safely say I got no fun but I got plenty of relaxtion, so relaxed I nearly fell asleep. Plot was slow and as revenge stories go totally uneventful, the main actress was really wooden and. The sound and camera work didnt make it any mor... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by femalebodyinspector at 09:40, 30 January 2012 | Report This Post

Weak movie

This movie was a real let down. I'm amazed it drew in people like Michael Douglas. It was a run of the mill revenge plot, nothing original. The action was directed well, but the movie was slow, dull and boring. My girlfriend asked if we could leave half way through. We didn't, but probably should have. W.e.a.k. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blade32 at 22:12, 29 January 2012 | Report This Post


Haha! It really is funny as fuck watching all of you daft pricks getting so wound up over a star rating. Haywire is nothing special but it is a decent watch if you're in an undemanding mood. Good, well staged fight sequences and lightness of touch that make the films already short run time breeze by. Go ahead and continue to be annoyed. Doesn't matter a fuck. ... More

Posted by Gazdance at 18:57, 29 January 2012 | Report This Post


L: smakris04 Now that I saw it I can't believe how a real honest person who has not been bribed or is not related to the cast or the director or is not a huge fan of the director or the cast (and I am both a huge fan of most of the cast and admire the director for most of his movies) can grade this more than 4/10 meaning 2/5 empire.shame shameote] Sorry, this is the review thread for Haywire not Shame. Disagree with you on Shame tho, I thought it was really good. I was disappointed t... More

Posted by adambatman82 at 00:15, 27 January 2012 | Report This Post

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