Given the discrepancy between the general critical review of Haywire (imdb | rotten tomatoes) vs. audiences — 80% of critics liked it vs. 46% of audience members — I’m guessing that a lot of people went into the film thinking it would be a generic, rote action movie. It’s not, thank god.
To me, it felt like Stephen Soderbergh was echoing his own film The Limey, except instead of Terence Stamp the main protagonist was MMA fighter and first-time actor Gina Carano. What she lacked in acting skills she made up for in fighting ability, and so the numerous fights felt more like real brawls than set-pieces…combatants were awkward and knocked into things, not whirling dervishes of perfectly timed punches and blocks. They felt like struggles, not like highlight reels.
The movie itself wasn’t anything terribly new, and the plot was a little thin, but Soderbergh’s style and Carano’s charisma* gave it enough to make it a very good film overall. And probably not at all what 54% of people were expecting when they want to the theatre.
* and by “charisma” I mean that she’s unbelievably fucking hot. Just saying.