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"Haywire," Steven Soderberg's new espionage movie about double-crossed government contractors (it's quite a bit more exciting than I just made it sound), hits theaters this weekend. There is a lot going on in "Haywire," starting with the interesting decision to cast Gina Carano, an MMA fighter, as the lead character. There's so much going on, in fact, that we decided an obsessive chat with Hollywood.com's Matt Patches was necessary. (Spoiler alert, obviously.)
Mike: I'm an idiot. I thought "The Grey" was coming out this weekend. Matt: January is an amorphous cloud of movies: They all come out this weekend. None of them come out this weekend.
Mike: Maybe we should just leave this conversation at that.
Matt: Ha ha. Mike: Does that mean that you didn't like "Haywire"?
Matt: No, I did like "Haywire." It's not revelatory in a way that clears the fog of January. But it's solid entertainment that I happened to catch. After "Joyful Noise," it's "Citizen Kane."
Mike: Do you want to know what I found interesting about "Haywire"? Ewan McGregor's hair.
Matt: What stands out? I can't remember it exactly ... was it streaked blonde? Frosted? It was doucheier than normal, which was fitting. Mike: It was REALLY short on the sides, but kind of long on top. He looked a little like Vanilla Ice. Matt: I think honing in on this detail defines you as a person. Ninety minutes of Gina Carano punching, kicking and tearing guys apart and all you can recall is Ewan McGregor's hairdo. Mike: Well, it bugged me. Matt: But it was fitting. Mike: When I was in high school, there was a guy that had a haircut similar to McGregor's. His nickname was Vanilla Mike. Matt: Are we talking about you but you're pretending it's someone else?
Mike: I wish. OK, so, Gina Carano punching, kicking and tearing guys apart. Did you enjoy that?
Matt: I did. I found out Gina Carano was an MMA fighter before the movie so I went in thinking this was going to be like "The Girlfriend Experience" with more sucker-punching. That's pretty much what it is, but I can confidently say Carano is a better actress than Sasha Grey. And a better actress than anyone in the movie "Sucker Punch." Mike: I think she was definitely serviceable as an actress. Here's my question: Where does she go from here? I fear that there's a future of action movies for her that get progressively worse. Matt: Uwe Boll has been trying to get her number for the past two weeks. Mike: I would bet money that's true. Matt: No, I think she has better prospects, thanks to her knack for actually looking like a badass. No offense to the "Underworld" or the "Resident Evil" movies, but with leading ladies that barely speak/emote, Carano wouldn't have to do much to nab her own franchise. And she can actually do the stunts, which makes "Haywire" a thousand times more exciting. Plus, her acting was enjoyable too. I didn't cringe when she said things. That was my biggest fear. But I don't know if that's Steven Soderbergh's tender love and care Mike: As opposed to when Antonio Banderas said something? Matt: That was more gargling water, right? Or growling? I didn't realize he had lines. Mike: Matt Singer [of IFC] was sitting next to me at the screening that I was at and he laughed uncontrollably every time Banderas said a word. Matt: It was nice to have solid actors in the ensemble parts, but they seem more like a marketing ploy. Banderas didn't do anything, but he can solidly stroke a beard. Michael Douglas is great at sounding angry. Michael Fassbender looks good when clobbered in the nose. But that didn't distract me. Carano was interesting enough. Amazingly. OK, I'm kind of in love with Gina Carano now. I should stop dancing around it. Mike: You really are. I'm going to Photoshop your face, in place of Fassbender's, stuck in her leg crunch. You will be smiling. Also: I have no doubt that the real Gina Carano would have no problem putting a pillow over someone's head and firing a round into it. Matt: "Haywire" is a documentary.
Mike: They just followed her around. "Just do whatever it is you do, Gina." "I'm going to kill Michael Fassbender." "OK, great." Matt: I've heard there's a six-hour cut that as a lot more walking, eating and sleeping. Do you think anyone is going to see "Haywire"? Will it spur more women-centric action movies? Mike: That's a good question. I'm not sure if people will see it or not. They did see "Contraband"! And I wasn't expecting that. Steven Soderbergh movies are odd in that they seem to just kind of come and go in the theaters. Though, I think this is his most Soderbergh-y film. Matt: Really? What is Soderbergh-y? Mike: Like, if someone said, "Hey, direct a Soderbergh parody/tribute," that movie would be "Haywire." The "cool" music. The way the scenes were filmed. The unknown as the lead, surrounded by famous people that come in and out of the movie. I mean that as a compliment, by the way. Matt: The reason he's retiring after his next two movies is so he can figure out how to make a new kind of movie. That's going to be difficult considering people can describe his style as "Soderbergh-y." And I agree, I'm always ready for an injection of cool courtesy of Steven Soderbergh. Mike: There's your pull quote: "An Injection of Cool" -- Matt Patches, Hollywood.com You should submit that. That's a great quote. Or, "I'm in Love with Gina Carano." Either one works. Matt: Do they take pull photos? Like a picture of Gina Carano choking me while I smile? And then just my name at the bottom. That's what I want on the back of the future Blu-ray cover. Mike: Bill Paxton plays Gina Carano's father. I'm not sure I'm comfortable living in a world in which Bill Paxton plays "the old man." What happened to the young, "Which makes you my new best friend" guy from "Titanic"? Matt: He's not old, he just has a mustache. And I like old Bill Paxton. He's even more wise and powerful than before. He was always goofy when he was younger. Now he's come into his own.
Mike: In "Weird Science" he was mean. OK, so: did the plot hold up for you? You're satisfied? Matt: I am. "Haywire" is pretty "by the books" when it comes to its spy-story setup, but with all the talented folks running the show, I had a lot of fun. I should say I found it satisfyingly confusing, in a "Michael Clayton" sort of way. I don't always need to know what's going on in a movie. I don't always need it to make sense. But as long as it thinks it knows it makes sense, I'm usually on board.
Mike: What didn't make sense? Matt: I don't know, there are four or five wheeling-and-dealing scenes between random military groups that I didn't think were that well explained. Lots of talking on the phone talking about backstabbing. Do you think everything concerning Antonio Banderas/Michael Douglas/Ewan McGregor/Michael Fassbender/Random European Dude/Korean Journalist made 100 percent sense?
Mike: Of course not. I thought Michael Douglas was a bad guy. But then he's not. And poor Channing Tatum is the not-especially-intelligent-assassin with a heart of gold. Matt: I was pretty high on him in this movie too. Mike: And Fassbender is MI6 and knows this is all a set up, but goes along with it. I wonder if he knows James Bond. Matt: Maybe they went to "Skyfall" together. Mike: Maybe James Bond is waiting for Michael Fassbender by the pool. But he doesn't show up because Gina Carano shot Fassbender in the head.
Matt: No wonder he was alone in that image!
Mike: He looks very forlorn. Perhaps the title should be "Crestfallen." Because he lost his friend. OK, last question: Did you like the ending? Matt: The beach fight between Ewan McGregor and Gina Carano is brilliant. And satisfying. So, yes. I guess I did. Mike: I'm not a big fan of, "Oh, my foot is caught in the rocks." Which we see in movies TWICE this month. Which both lead to a drowning. But I did like the fight. I liked all of the fights. Matt: I didn't know Ewan McGregor was capable of that kind of action. I bet that's why his hair was so crazy. It was fighting hair. We've never seen that before. Mike: Um, "The Phantom Menace"? He defeated Darth Maul. Matt: Yeah, but he wasn't throwing punches. He was throwing Force punches. That requires a different haircut. Different Hairchlorians. Mike: "Hairchlorians." I feel we should end on that.
Matt Patches is the film editor at Hollywood.com. You can follow him on Twitter. Mike Ryan is the senior writer for Moviefone. He has written for Wired Magazine, VanityFair.com, GQ.com, New York Magazine and Movieline. He likes Star Wars a lot. You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter