Friday, October 17, 2014

Haywire: Soderbergh's [nearly] last set

Since emerging amid a flood of praise for sex, lies and videotape in 1989, Soderbergh has deftly mastered the art of flipping between glossy Hollywood filmmaking (the Ocean’s franchise) and no-budget indies (Bubble), with almost every conceivable genre exercise in between Who else can lay claim to both "Kafka" and "Erin Brockovich"? 

In 2013, Soderbergh shifted gears from the film world and was most recently seen selling Bolivian liquor(but not just ANY Bolivian liquor, he claims), with the tag line: 'this shit will fuck you up!"

That tag was possibly inspired by Mallory (played by former American Gladiator Gina Carano), the heroine (?) in his 2012 action project, Haywire.

The plot is more than well-worn: a U.S. government operative  who’s betrayed and sucker-punched by the "organization" Mallory overcomes  one male antagonist after another - including an invigorating Michael Fassbender cramped as a MMA cage—a rural diner, a hallway, a hotel room— you get the picture. 

In golden-age Hollywood, the main character in a woman’s picture was someone with the skills to bend a man’s emotions to hers. These days, a movie woman proves her femininity by having the biggest cojones around. In the script by Lem Dobbs (the pseudonym, borrowed from Humphrey Bogart’s character in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, taken by writer Anton Kitaj, the son of painter R.B. Kitaj), Mallory gets to prove her testicular fortitude in the first few minutes. Sitting in an upstate New York diner, she is briefly wooed, then savagely punched, by her old partner Aaron (Tatum); in a few minutes he’s breakfast hash.

Dobbs and Soderbergh may figure that their audience is here for the fights and not for the coherence, so they may as well goof the system. As sleazy businessman Mathieu Kassovitz tells Mallory while inviting her to wander through a labyrinthine garden, “The whole point is to relax and lose yourself.”

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