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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


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 shame shame ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by smakris04 at 23:24, 26 January 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Beyond bad even when bad is good

Yeah right that's why the changed it to 3 stars on dvd then is it? You clearly have no idea what your talking about. ... More

Posted by griff03 at 19:55, 26 January 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Haywire

I never really know what I'm going to get with a Steven Soderburgh film, but this one is a bit of a failure.  His supposed 'take' on the action movie is burdened by a muddled script that pretends its simple story is actually complicated, a total lack of tension, a dreadful performance by its lead star, cardboard characters and self-consciously stylised direction that is at odds with the trashy material.  At least the meagre fight scenes are good, and shot so you can see what's ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dr Lenera at 17:44, 26 January 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Haywire

L: GCH Definitely more like Hay than Wire. ow THIS I like. One line reviews splitting the movie titles up and using them. Definitely more Cowboys than Aliens. Definitely more Mission than Impossible. Definitely more Lady than Iron. Definitely more Method than Dangerous. And so on. ... More

Posted by UTB at 11:09, 26 January 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Haywire

Definitely more like Hay then Wire. We went to see this because of the four star rating. What a disappointment- no more then two stars when you're in a generous mood. The phone bills must have been huge since Gina Carano was the only one not phoning in a performance. and that haircut is inexcusable! ... More

Posted by GCH at 09:28, 26 January 2012 | Report This Post

RE: I want to go with 2 and a half..but it'l have to be 2

L: adambatman82 L: markasmarvt it just isn't a 4 star movie by any objective critical standards. nteresting idea, I'd like to see it expanded upon. O ... More

Posted by Pigeon Army at 20:25, 25 January 2012 | Report This Post


This is an awful movie. Self indulgent tripe. The story, plot, dialogue, etc are all hackneyed and cliched. How could Soderbergh ever think he could pull off a riveting car chase without a single edit? The fights were boring, the chases were boring, the characters were boring... it's a boring movie. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bnicholson50 at 19:14, 25 January 2012 | Report This Post

RE: I want to go with 2 and a half..but it'l have to be 2

resting idea, I'd like to see it expanded upon. OMEBODY GET PIGEON ARMY QUICK ... More

Posted by Deviation at 16:43, 25 January 2012 | Report This Post

RE: I want to go with 2 and a half..but it'l have to be 2

L: markasmarvt it just isn't a 4 star movie by any objective critical standards. nteresting idea, I'd like to see it expanded upon. ... More

Posted by adambatman82 at 11:06, 25 January 2012 | Report This Post


L: Qwerty Norris There are definitely things to like in this, but overall I'd say that Soderbergh's realist take on the action thriller delivers mixed results - even if it's nice to see a film of this genre not resign itself to seizure-enduing cuts every second. When it works, it tends to be when he resorts to the stripped down nature of no music & hand to hand combat situations (specifically one particular encounter in a hotel room), whilst the script itself is refreshingly free... More

Posted by MartinBlank76 at 08:35, 25 January 2012 | Report This Post

I want to go with 2 and a half..but it'l have to be 2

I agree with the majority here, opinions differ of course, but it just isn't a 4 star movie by any objective critical standards. It wasn't bad..first half hour was pretty good actually, but then it just caved in. A completely dumb as rocks movie with delusions that it was clever with ropey dialog and phoned in performances. 4 stars my muscular buttocks ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by markasmarv at 03:35, 25 January 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Haywire

I will use the following words to describe how I felt after seeing this film; empty; hollow; deflated; you get the picture. Pointless drivel, mundane action scenes and forgettable characters. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by JAYDAK1SS at 21:29, 24 January 2012 | Report This Post

4 stars... really??

Jeez, sorry Empire but 4 stars is way off the mark. It was the most terrible film I've seen in ages. Horrific acting from Gina Carano, stunted dialogue, inappropriate soundtrack and remarkable dull action sequences. Very disappointing from Mr Soderbergh. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by elmosmoe at 19:13, 24 January 2012 | Report This Post

Did I watch a different film?

Don't get me wrong it's not a bad film I was just expecting something like an action packed female Bourne film (based on what I'd seen in the trailer). Not sure how you got to the four star rating (was it for Gina Carano's ass kicking ability?)I'd have gone with three as it's one of those films you'd watch if nothing else takes your fancy or you’ve seen everything else. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Bearsurf at 16:01, 24 January 2012 | Report This Post

4 Stars???

Come on Empire!! I'm sure we'll see this listed in your 'we got it wrong' write up soon. One of those films where you wish someone would walk into the cinema and shoot you in the face with a nail gun,...... repeatedly. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by joeyl77 at 15:25, 23 January 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Fantastic

L: adambatman82 I'm baffled by the negativity in this thread; I thought it was fantastic. A clever plot mixed with beautifully shot action sequences made for a solid all-round experience. Complaints about the complicated plot say more about the viewer than the filmmaker, especially given that the whole thing was explained for a second time in one of the films closing sequences. It was really nice to see a post-Bourne action flick that wasn't all fast-cuts and shaky-cam too. 'm with y... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ChudMonkey at 14:04, 23 January 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Haywire

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 ... More

Posted by superdan at 13:30, 23 January 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Haywire

L: MonsterCat L: Cool Breeze Another example of Empire giving a shite film a great review because of director snobbery.They obviously respect Stephen Soderbergh so much that htye couldnt bear to give it a less than stellar review. eally? Even though they rated The Good German and Ocean's 12 2/5 and The Informant 3/5? But hey don't let research and cold hard facts get in the way of you spouting your specious crap. mpire also only gave The Limey three stars, although that... More

Posted by clownfoot at 13:23, 23 January 2012 | Report This Post

A fairly watchable curiosity

I'm not sure Soderbergh's quirky shooting style really worked for this genre. Not enough of the well choreographed scraps for my liking and it took a bit too long for the action to get going. Still, enjoyed the Dublin section, especially when the police get on her tail and the Barcelona foot chase was fun too. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Old_Pyrate at 10:59, 23 January 2012 | Report This Post

Harsh people...............Very harsh!

Having read all of your reviews I was expecting to see the worst film ever. I think you have all been a tad harsh. Inevitably when you go and see a film and your expectations are low you end up liking it a bit more than you usually would, but apart from the worst soundtrack in film history and Ewan McGregor being fucking terrible as usual, I thought this was ok. It just felt a bit different / fresh. Bit annoyed that the trailer gave away the plot between her and Fassbender but im gonna give this... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by guysalisbury at 09:37, 23 January 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Poor (Wo)mans Bourne

L: Rgirvan44 Yeah, this isn't a Borune film - Soderburgh has basically take an action template and inserted it into his world - all that contract discussion at the start? Wouldn't get that in an action film. ut that's the thing... that was the most interesting part. ... More

Posted by Timon at 09:37, 23 January 2012 | Report This Post


Big let down. The fights scenes were amazing but thats about it. It sounded like the music was from dubbed in from a different film just not representing what was on screen at all. Almost as bad as Drive. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by stu1980 at 23:19, 22 January 2012 | Report This Post

They are all going to hell

This is one of the most god-awful pieces of cinematic excrement I have ever had the misfortune of sitting through... and I have, for my sins, seen Twilight AND Sex & the City 2. There is no plot, it isn't complicated at all (as some other, clearly mentally deficient fool on here has suggested), the acting is similar to a special school nativity play, McGregor's accent is terrible, Fassbender is as useless as Justin Bieber's genitals, Puss In Boots is just silly and Steven Soderbergh needs ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by dj8680 at 20:54, 22 January 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Beyond bad even when bad is good

L: Spaldron I'm unsure whether to see this now or wait for the dvd considering the mixed comments here. Plenty more important films to get round to watching first. f you've got an unlimited card or lots of money it's worth checking out. If not? Yeah, wait for the DVD. ... More

Posted by Qwerty Norris at 19:44, 22 January 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Beyond bad even when bad is good

L: Spaldron I'm unsure whether to see this now or wait for the dvd considering the mixed comments here. Plenty more important films to get round to watching first. 'd recommend it as highly as anything else thats been released so far this year. I certainly wouldn't let the confused bemoaning in this thread put you off; the general consensus elsewhere is by and large positive (82% Rotten Tomatoes). ... More

Posted by adambatman82 at 17:21, 22 January 2012 | Report This Post

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