I’ve said this about a dozen times on this blog before, but Steven Soderbergh really has proven to be a jack-of-all-trades behind the camera.
From the looks of the trailer for his next film, Magic Mike, it looks like the least Soderberghian film yet. Channing Tatum plays a male stripper, but instead of being the Boogie Nights of this decade, it looks more like a formulaic flick that doesn’t even have Soderbergh’s touch. And the top 40 song that plays in the trailer has me wanting it less. But I will still give it a shot.
Most recently Soderbergh broke from his mold with action flick Haywire. While action certainly hasn’t been his forte, you can see how his career has led to the point where he finally made a true one. He stuck to his mold by taking another non-actor like he did with porn star Sasha Grey in The Girlfriend Experience. Here, female UFC fighter Gina Carano stars as kickass badass black ops agent/soldier/whatever Mallory Kane. Soderbergh’s ability to successful stick these inexperienced people into lead roles really gives credence to his ability to direct an actor (especially a new one).
Carano doesn’t need to rely on her verbal abilities to win an audience over here though. It really comes down to her fists and feet and how hard they can punch the ever living shit out of another person. She holds herself really well in Haywire, with the best moments coming when Soderbergh is directing her through lengthy action scenes and sequences.
I could talk at length about how certain action films ruin themselves for me by editing their fight scenes and chase scenes into sequences where shots don’t ever last for more than a few seconds. Soderbergh isn’t that kind of director. He maintains a watchful eye over his action, which is choreographed so well that all he needs to do is figure out a nice, constrained way to capture it. Which he of course does.
Haywire features a number of unique, well thought out ways of filming a fight scene or chase scene. The simple placement of a camera in an unsuspecting place and the patience to not chop your film up into edits of one second, where every punch and kick is the signal to cut to a different angle, really has me holding Haywire in high regard among other similar films.
Soderbergh does well to place accomplished actors like Michael Fassbender and Ewan McGregor in the film to really hold down the fort. Michael Douglas could have used more scenes, but it wasn’t a surprise that his involvement was limited in this film. They all do a nice enough job to hold together an okay story about being screwed over by people who thought you could trust, but probably shouldn’t have. It’s a nice little ensemble cast that really provides an unexpected bonus to the rest of what is good about the film.
Haywire really is another nice achievement for Soderbergh. He is clearly an artist who likes to challenge himself whenever possible. His careful eye does wonders for the film’s action and Carano is surprisingly able to handle herself as someone brand new to film and acting. Those expecting any other sort of action flick than what I’ve described will be sorely disappointed.