Haywire (Blu-ray) (2011)

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Released 26-Jul-2012

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Featurette-Making Of-Gina Carano in Training
Featurette-Making Of-The Men of Haywire
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2011
Running Time 92:00
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Steven Soderbergh
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Gina Carano
Michael Angarano
Channing Tatum
Debby Lynn Ross
Michael Douglas
Antonio Banderas
Ewan McGregor
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music David Holmes


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Haywire is not only the latest movie from American director Stephen Soderbergh but a pretty accurate description of Soderbergh's career. After almost inventing the "mainstream" independent movie industry with Sex, Lies and Videotape he became the serious dramatic, Oscar-winning director of films such as Erin Brockovich and Traffic before helming the three enormously popular heist movies of the Ocean's franchise. In recent times Soderbergh has gone even more eclectic. His multiple hour historical epic Che was followed by The Girlfriend Experience featuring adult film star Sasha Grey then the strange comedy drama The Informant! After making a documentary about spoken word artist Spalding Gray he jumped to the disaster pic Contagion before making Haywire. His latest release Magic Mike is the story of a group of male strippers!

     To his detractors this wild array of films and genres reflects a shallowness in his identity. Truthfully, it can prove difficult to identify a Steven Soderbergh film. Soderberg himself would probably not be unhappy with this criticism - he is a director who likes to minimise his screen credit and let the movie speak for itself.

     Haywire is a strange film for Soderbergh - a full-on espionage thriller packed with expertly staged very realistic fight scenes. Soderbergh says that he was watching TV one night when he saw a mixed martial arts bout featuring female athlete Gina Carano. Watching her blend beauty, athleticism and brutality a light bulb went off for Soderbergh. He had to construct a film around her! One wonders if the same approach led to The Girlfriend Experience!

     Construct it he did. Using a script by Lem Dobbs, who had worked with him on The Limey, and shooting it himself Soderbergh has made a film about a beautiful military contractor caught up in a deadly conspiracy.

     When we first meet Malory Kane (Gina Carano) she is looking a little worse for wear. Sitting down at a diner in upstate New York she waits tentatively for an appointment. In walks Aaron (Channing Tatum). He tells her his task is simple. He is to bring her in. Mayhem ensues and Malory escapes the diner by kidnapping Scott (Michael Angarano) and taking his car. As they drive away from the scene Malory tells Scott to memorise names, places and events in case she doesn't make it. She tells Scott what happened in Barcelona…

     Shadowy government figure Coblenz (Michael Douglas) and even more shadowy Spanish guy Roderigo (Antonio Banderas) contract a private black ops company headed by Kenneth (Ewan McGregor) to carry out an operation in Barcelona. A journalist is being held hostage in an apartment and needs to be rescued and handed over to Roderigo. The operation goes almost without a hitch and Malory and Aaron form some kind of bond. On returning from Barcelona Kenneth visits Malory and tells her she is immediately needed for another operation. That's a problem because Malory had already decided to retire from the business and take it easy, perhaps spend more time with her former army father (Bill Paxton). That can't happen, explains Kenneth. She is non-optional part of the deal.

     Reluctantly she takes off to Ireland where she meets up with MI6 agent Paul (Michael Fassbender). The assignment is pretty simple. She just has to accompany Paul to a party where he is meeting a "person of interest" Studer (Matthew Kassovitz). Of course, things don't go to plan in fact, they go haywire!! What follows is a tense chase film ŕ la Bourne with Malory having to think and fight her way out of every situation until she can get to the bottom of the conspiracy. The film is stripped down and minimalist in its approach.

     I'm not going to say anything negative about Gina Carano's is acting. I too have seen her videos. She could easily hunt down and kill me! Truthfully, she does a pretty good job in what is essentially a "tough guy" role. She isn't required to emote a great deal and the dialogue tends to fall into tough speak or exposition.

     That is not really a criticism. The film is all about her combining beauty and brutality. She is attractive woman with a tough edge. Soderbergh insisted on using minimal stunt people allowing Carano to do what she does best. The result is fight scenes that are hyperkinetic and yet grounded in reality. Carano herself was overjoyed that she could bring some of her Muay Thai and MMA moves to the big screen. The ending of the film suggests that it could have been the first of a series of movies. The lukewarm box office taken by the film perhaps rules out any future movies.

     That is a great pity. Carano shows that working with a good director she can put in a serviceable performance and impress in the action sequences. The men in Haywire tend to play the supporting roles. Nevertheless Soderbergh gathers an amazing cast with McGregor and Fassbender doing good work in their somewhat larger roles. Banderas and Douglas are really there for a few key scenes which they nail with usual precision.

     Haywire is nothing more than a tense action film and should hopefully have a good life on home video. Taken for what it is the film succeeds on almost all levels.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Haywire was shot on the RED camera, a favoured tool of Soderbergh. It was transferred to 35mm film for showing at the cinema and was projected at a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. That ratio has been preserved for this group Blu-ray release.

     Soderbergh shot the film quickly. In the extras which accompany this Blu-ray the actors, understandably, speak of the joy of working with a director who shoots fast and particularly the fact that Soderbergh does not use stage lighting.

     The effect of the use of natural light is that the film varies between sharp and soft according to the available light. The early scenes in the cafe, for instance, are little soft and look unclear. The hotel scenes in Dublin, by contrast, are well lit naturally and image quality is sharper. Obviously Soderbergh did not spend an enormous amount of time tweaking the film in postproduction, instead concentrating on the warm yellows and drab greys, and wants it to look fairly direct and raw. This result has been achieved however it does not represent a cutting edge Blu-ray transfer. It does however reflect the way that the film looked in the cinema.

     The other reasons for the lack of crystal clarity may be in the Blu-ray size. Other Regions have the film on a dual layered Blu-ray whereas, for reasons that are not clear, in our Region we have a single layered Blu-ray. The film is short and it is not uncommon to stick short films, without substantial extras, onto a single layered disc. Further, the quality of a transfer really depends on its authoring and not the pure numbers of the size of the file. I'll let the more knowledgeable debate this but it may be that our Region is more compressed that its relatives.

     The colours are strong without evidence of bleeding. There are no technical problems such as artefacts or digital noise with the film.

    There are descriptive subtitles in English for the hearing-impaired.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

The Haywire Blu-ray carries two soundtracks. Both are English. The core soundtrack is a DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 track. There is also a Dolby Digital 2.0 descriptive audio track running at 256 Kb/s.

The Master Audio track is very effective at conveying the thumps and crashes of the multiple fight scenes in the film. The surround mix is not overly aggressive but does convey the ambience of street scenes and environmental effects. The sub-woofer gives a nice bass undercurrent to the blows on screen.

The dialogue is clear and easy to understand. There are no technical problems with the sound transfer.

The music is by composer David Holmes. He also worked on the Ocean's films. The result is a jazzy score that at times gives the film an European flavour and at other times seems a little odd when set against the on-screen action.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     There are only two extras included with this Blu-ray.

Training with Gina Carano (16.03)

     This is somewhat in the nature of a Making of featurette. It just happens that the focus is on Carano. It is actually quite in-depth, consisting of interviews with Carano and the military trainer and stunt coordinator as well as a lot of fascinating onset footage of the fight scenes being put together.

The Men of Haywire (5.28)

     In this short feature Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Antonio Banderas and Channing Tatum speak briefly about their involvement in the film and their enjoyment in working with Stephen Soderbergh.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

 

       As said above the Region A and Region B UK versions of this film have it spead over a BD-50 rather than a BD-25. Not sure how much of a difference this actually makes. Otherwise the feature sets are almost identical. The Region B UK apparently has another very short featurette.

Summary

     Haywire is really just another addition to the action film format and another attempt to bring a real fighter out of the ring and into the silver screen. Frequently such attempts create B movies. In this case the result is something better due to the artistry of Soderbergh and the quality of the cast. There is also no doubt that Carano has applied herself 100% to acting and performing in the film. It is a perfect Friday night pizza movie

     The Blu-ray is not of the greatest quality however the shooting style of Stephen Soderbergh probably means that it was not destined to be exemplary. The extras are brief but interesting.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Thursday, July 12, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer SC-LX 81 7.1
SpeakersAaron ATS-5 7.1

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