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Film / Haywire

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Haywire is a film directed by Steven Soderbergh.

Mallory Kane (Gina Carano), the lead operative of a Private Military Contractor that does work for the CIA, is betrayed by her employer after a hostage rescue mission in Barcelona. She must then set out to find out why she was betrayed and take revenge on everyone involved.

Carano is a former MMA fighter, and her background makes her a natural choice for the ass-kicking, hardcase Mallory. Her star-studded supporting cast includes Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, and Bill Paxton as her father.

This film provides examples of:

  • Accent Relapse: Despite masquerading as an Englishman, Paul's voice slips back into an Irish brogue towards the end of his fight with Mallory because he is too beaten to keep up the facade.
  • Action Girl: Mallory, of course. The movie is notable for being a relatively mainstream gritty action flick with a female lead in the style of Bourne (as opposed to She-Fu or Bullet Time-style action girls).
  • Amazonian Beauty: Mallory cleans up nicely at certain points in the film, but there is no mistaking she is physically very powerful.
  • Anachronic Order: After the opening scene, the next hour or so is her telling the story of How We Got Here, with additional time jumps within the story.
  • Badass Bystander: In the diner fight, a male bystander wrestles Aaron away from Mallory, and seconds later the waitress smashes a coffee pot over Aaron's head.
  • Badass Boast
    "...or you can tell me in ten minutes when I have my hands around your throat."
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Deconstructed. Mallory remains beautiful and well-kept throughout the movie, but to achieve that she is shown applying full-face makeup (to cover bruises) and tidying her hair in order to maintain that look and avoid suspicion in public.
  • Brutal Brawl: Paul attacks Mallory in their hotel room. Neither party holds back, resulting in stiff kicks, bodies being smashed through furniture and doors, and her delivering a devastating knee strike to his face. The calmest part of the fight is when she strangles him unconscious with her thighs.
  • CIA Evil, FBI Good: Inverted, somewhat. Michael Douglas' CIA character is portrayed as helpful towards Mallory if not outright fixing things. On the other hand, Kenneth's PMC goons impersonate FBI agents at one point.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Everyone. Aaron opens the diner fight by throwing hot coffee in Mallory's face and instantly follows that with a ketchup bottle to the head, and the rest of the fights are similar. The hotel-room fight begins when Paul hits Mallory from the back of the head, knocking her down.
  • Combat Stilettos: Averted, (along with Action Dress Rip, Stripperific and other similar tropes) Mallory takes off her high heels right before going into the hotel room, knowing that Paul was going to attempt to kill her.
  • Coup de Grâce: After thoroughly defeating Paul and beating him senseless, Mallory executes him with a gunshot to the head.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Kenneth's leg gets accidentally jammed between two rocks on a deserted beach. Mallory leaves him there with the incoming tide.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Don't worry, she's escaped the cops with clever driviDEER!
  • Dublin: The setting for much of the film, where Kenneth set up a job with Paul and Mallory.
  • Fauxreigner: Paul pretends to be a British secret agent but is revealed to actually be an Irish hitman.
  • Food Slap: Aaron opens the diner fight by throwing his coffee in Mallory's face. The waitress promptly one-ups him by bashing him with the coffee pot.
  • Framing Device: Much of the film is framed as Mallory telling the story to a guy she picked up after the opening diner fight.
  • Gas Mask Mooks/SWAT Team: The Garda Síochána Emergency Response Unit. They aren't actually villains per se - just police officers who have been wrongly informed Mallory is a murderer - but they perform this role and the Faceless Goons rule is definitely in effect.
  • Genre Deconstruction: More or less the whole film runs on playing spy thriller as close to the ground as possible.
  • Hollywood Silencer: Averted. Mallory uses a pillow in front of the muzzle when she shoots Paul but it doesn't make the shot any quieter. Presumably it was to avoid blood/brain splatters.
  • How We Got Here: The film starts a little bit more than halfway through the story for the opening diner fight, then spells out what led to this encounter.
  • Improvised Weapon: Hot coffee, a ketchup bottle, a fork, the coffee pot...and that's in the first fight. It's about what you'd expect, given the entire cast being Combat Pragmatists.
  • Impressive Pyrotechnics: Averted. The few explosions in the film are all small amounts of C4 that detonate with the true-to-life dull boom and a cloud of concrete dust.
  • Jitter Cam: Averted with extreme prejudice; the chase and fight scenes are filmed in long, steady takes that let you see exactly what's going on.
  • Karma Houdini: Studer. He is the only one of the villains to not betray Mallory, as they were never allies or co-workers to begin with, so he is not on her list for personal vengeance.
  • Kicking Ass in All Her Finery: The hotel room fight scene.
  • Meta Casting: It's been said that Gina was the inspiration behind the movie in the first place.
  • Mook Horror Show: The fight in Mallory's house. The lights are off, she grew up here, and the villains split up. (As it happens, only two mooks die. One Mallory shoots dead in a garage, and the other gets his neck snapped. The third mook does a Heel–Face Turn but ends up dead by other hands.
  • Murderous Thighs: Mallory ends her fight with Paul by choking him unconscious with her thighs before shooting him in the head.
  • Neck Snap: As part of the Mook Horror Show when Mallory snaps a mook's neck over the edge of a table or drawer.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Both of them mismarketed the film as yet another action flick with spectacular set pieces and bombastic, gritty soundtrack, while it's a medium-paced spy thriller with soft, retro track straight from the 70's. Plus they showed Mallory as some sort of super spy going rogue, where she's "just" a former-Marine-turned-merc.
  • Oh Shit: Book Ends the movie, starting with Mallory being upset that Aaron is the one that shows up to the diner. Then Rodrigo's line at the end of the film when Mallory drops in on him.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: A simple green hoodie and acting casually was enough to get pass the police blockade. Granted, Mallory looks like a guy in it, but still.
  • Parents in Distress: Flirted with when Kenneth, Aaron, and a couple of other men arrive at the house of Mallory's father and start interrogating him in a threatening manner.
  • Pillow Silencer: Mallory executes Paul by putting a pillow over his head an then shooting through it. It doesn't actually silence the shot, but other aspects of the trope (protecting against blood splatter) applies.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: Jiang.
  • Private Military Contractors: An important part of Mallory's characterisation is that she works in the private sector. This allows her to toy with Kenneth during the setup in the Kane's family house and force him to admit he's not a federal agent.
  • Properly Paranoid: Mal doesn't trust Paul from the very beginning, starting with bugging his phone and ending with taking her high heels off right when she was sure of incoming attack.
  • Quieter Than Silence: You will become painfully aware of what footsteps and clinking cups sound like watching this film.
  • Roof Hopping: Mallory does some of this to escape an ERU team in Dublin. Played with a little, as she ends up taking a hard fall.
  • Same Language Dub: There was a lot of post-production work done for Gina Carano's performance due to her own admitted shortcomings as an actor. In addition to a lot of Looping Lines, there was some out-and-out dubbing of Mallory's dialogue in some instances.
  • Sequel Hook: Mallory is offered to work directly for the US Government in exchange for information from Michael Douglas' character.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Despite tomboy Mallory's protests to Kenneth that "I don't wear the dress," her cocktail-party outfit makes her quite the looker.
  • Surprise Car Crash: Mallory escapes from the trap at the beginning of the film in a car, but a deer suddenly strays across her path causing her to swerve and hit a tree.
  • Tempting Fate: "Jesus! You're a really good driver!"
  • Trailers Always Spoil: We know that Paul will be shot before we ever learn who he is and that Kenneth is the bad guy. Oh, and the very final scene is in it too, with obvious context of what is going on.
  • Trash the Set: The hotel-room fight manages to break just about everything in the room except the sofa. Which still gets knocked over.
  • Tuxedo and Martini: Subverted. Paul pretends to be a suave and flirtatious English spy working with Mallory, when he's actually a thuggish Irish hitman hired to frame her for murder and kill her.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Everyone from Barcelona's "hostage rescue", where the "hostage" was actually secured in a safe house with guards. Aaron gets really pissed upon learning this. Too bad he is shot at the very same moment he learns the truth.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Rare justified case. Mallory wants to get information from Kenneth, so shooting him In the Back would gain her nothing.
  • Wild Card: Once Coblenz realises that Mallory's being framed by Kenneth, his actions are transparently motivated by making sure that he can still work with whichever one of them survives.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Everyone. Justified, since she's completely capable of beating them up in return.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Aaron, once he started connecting the dots on Mallory's "rogue" status and Kenneth's insistence on finding her.