Haywire is a pretty standard espionage/double-cross movie. The main character in this movie is Mallory Kane played by Gina Carano who is more famous as a mixed martial arts fighter than an actress. So there is a lot of fighting in this movie although not as much as in say, The Raid or Ong Bak. There’s also a lot of other action, running, climbing and jumping from rooftops which is nicely filmed and fun to watch. Surprisingly for this kind of movie, there’s also a lot of nicely styled slow scenes that feel a bit more like The Thomas Crown Affair.
The narrative jumps around a lot, starting with the opening scene which chronologically takes place about two thirds of the way through the story. A lot of the story is told in flashback while Mallory explains her actions to a man she carjacks while fleeing as yet unnamed pursuers. When the time comes to take the story forward from this point for the finale, it is tricky not to think of this as flashback also as it is presented in exactly the same style as the rest of the movie.
As well as the fighting, there are some nice tense bits where we get pulled into the atmospheric world and start to feel some of the tension and paranoia that must be pervasive when working in the espionage game. When Mallory thinks she is being followed, before the inevitable big chase scenes, it is genuinely tense and creepy. The viewer is really drawn in to the paranoia and starts to suspect every person and car on the streets.
Interestingly because the fighting is very realistic and quite low-key it feels a little less dramatic than a lot of other movies like this despite there being a lot of set piece fights. This is a bit of a shame because it is otherwise a really nice change from the usual over the top movie fighting.
The plot isn’t really that important and veers between being hard to understand and significantly over-explained. But really this doesn’t matter all that much, it’s a cool movie that is well made and has some nice fighting and action scenes in it. There’s double crossing and selling out amongst the “private contractors” who are brought in to do dirty work for the US government. There are relationships between some of the contractors that go sour. Antonio Banderas and Michael Douglas play reasonable and somewhat brief supporting roles. But really the rest of this stuff is just a framework to hang the fighting and action scenes on.