Monday, February 25, 2013

Haywire - classy action

Haywire (2011)
Cast: Gina Carano, Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas, Michael Fassbender, Channing Tatum, Antonio Bendares, Mathieu Kassovitz
Direction: Steven Soderberg
Genre: Action, Thriller

Haywire is an action crime thriller directed by Steven Soderberg. The plot is very simple and ordinary as we have seen in couple of high rated action films. Mallory Kane (Gina Carano) is a freelance operative for a firm that handles “special covet operations” off the grid, headed by Kenneth (McGregor). Considered as very skillful, she is the most wanted for these kinds of operations to be successful. After a supposedly easy mission turns awry, she is forced to run from cops and the people associated with the mission.

Let’s not get into too much detail about the plot. Haywire is a simple and straight action movie. There are a few movies with similar plot as this one. What makes it good and different from the rest of similar films is its realistic stunts. Thanks to Gina Carano’s professional martial arts background, the action sequences are quite natural, realistic. Comparing to Angelina Jolie starrer Salt which has a similar female centered storyline, Haywire is far better and really cool in action part. For the realistic action alone, you can watch it, well atleast once.

Carano is the perfect choice for Mallory and suits well as the tough girl, stamped as rogue, convicted and on the run. You need not wonder when she biffs the bad guys and jumps off rooftops, as she is a mixed martial artist. She is the stunt-woman for herself. The fight scene with Aaron (Tatum) at the movie beginning looks raw and more like wrestling inside ring. It is like, people shown fighting actually fights.

Carano in action

The cast is ensemble. Apart from Carano, you can see big actors together on screen. There is no other significant female character in the film too. You have Michael Douglas as Coblenz, a government agent, Ewan McGregor as Kenneth, director of the firm that handles covet operations, Antonio Bendares as Coblenz’s Spanish contact Rodrigo, Michael Fassbender as MI6 agent Paul, Channing Tatum as Aaron, Mallory’s team-player, Bill Paxton as Mallory’s father and French actor-director Mathieu Kassovitz as Studer, a wealthy businessman.

The big stars casting is not a new or odd thing in films directed by Soderberg (Oceans 11!). In fact this is the first reason I chose to watch this film. They all have done their part quite well. But I feel this time it didn’t work too well. Given the fact that the run time is only 92 minutes, most of them appear as a sort of extended cameo, especially Fassbender and Kassovitz. I thought Fassbender is the male lead but he appears for hardly 10 minutes. The fact here is, there is no solid male lead in the film. 

Haywire is cut by Soderberg himself. The editing and non linear narrative works well here with the pace of the story. Soundtrack is impressive at a few instants, for example when Mallory chases a guy in Barcelona. Unlike many spy movies, it doesn't rely on special effects and there aren't any inappropriate fight sequences. Soderbeg's direction and script gives an appeal to the viewers that nothing goes out of the track. That invites and engages the audiences without any sense of boredom.

This isn't a perfect made film. There may be some flaws one can observe. Forget that and it will offer more than what you can expect from a normal action thriller film. I wonder why IMDB has lower rating for this film but it deserves a lot more than that.

Overall, with its appealing pace and charisma in Carano’s stunts, Haywire will not let you down. Enjoy yourself!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Freaking Awesome investigation thriller films

Thriller films are always a treat to watch. It gives the audience an adrenaline rush to what will happen in the next scene. A common aspect of crime thriller films is that, it involves an extended investigation conducted by police, lawyers, journalists and private detectives. But most of them happen to be predicable in the midway. Only a few films will leave us puzzled till the end, and there are also films that require multiple viewings to know what actually has happened. Here are some of the best and of course my favorite of such films. I call them freaking awesome because they really are! I don't like the idea of ranking the films while making a list, as each of the film is different in its own way.

1. Se7en (1995) – USA
Director: David Fincher
A soon to be retired veteran detective and his newly transferred replacement are on hot pursuit after a serial killer whose motifs are based on 7 deadly sins. Believe me, this is the best thriller film I have ever seen. Se7en is an outstanding film in all the aspects, especially the way the thrill element is maintained throughout is really terrific. The cinematography and visual effects gives you a haunting effect that will remain with the viewer for quite a while. The film brings out one of the finest performances from Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt. For thriller movie freaks, this is a not-to-miss film.

2. The Secret in Their Eyes (2009) – Argentina
Director: Juan José Campanella
  In the Argentinean era of political unrest and state sponsored terrorism, the film tells the story of a murder case and its effect on the lives of persons closely involved. Switching back and forth between 1974 and 2000, this film sets the standards of how a mystery drama film should be, with an intense and engulfing plot, mesmerizing performance, excellent execution of a well written script by the director. For those who are bored of mediocre Hollywood films, go for this emotional and rich thriller. You will not be disappointed!

3. Memories of Murder (2003) – South Korea
Director: Bong Joon-ho
Two detectives with different mindset and methods in approaching homicide cases are appointed to solve unsolved mysteries behind murders of young girls. The film is based on the true story of South Korea’s first known serial murders. The film moves in a slow pace but that suits it very well with a fantastic character development, acting and a flawless screenplay at the top. You can find many thriller films like this but not like this one for sure. Films like this are very uncommon and far better than most of the Hollywood counterparts.

4. Angel Heart (1987) – USA
Director: Alan Parker
A private detective is hired by a mysterious man to find a missing singer and soon realizes that things are not simple as he expected it be in the course of his investigation and finds himself in lot of trouble. What makes this interesting is its blend of horror, mystery and detective genre, a gripping and intriguing plot and great performances from Rourke and de Niro. The eerie soundtrack is excellently coherent with the dark and unnerving plot. Read my review about the film here.

5. The Ghost Writer (2010) – British/German
Director: Roman Polanski
A ghost writer is hired to complete the memoir of an ex Prime minister, and in the course of writing, his own life is put under risk.The film turned out to be a slow paced gripping thriller, thanks to Ewan McGregor’s powerful performance and Roman Polanski’s stylish direction. This may not be the best of Polanski, but it surely is a terrific mystery thriller film that keeps you engaged till the end. Other than the plot, I really liked the film’s chill and rainy environment. Upon its release, the film drew controversies because of its sensitive political content.

6. Shutter Island (2010) – USA
Director: Martin Scorcese
 Set in 1954, U.S. Marshal Edward Daniels arrives at a mental hospital for criminally insane located in the titular Shutter Island, to investigate the disappearance of a murderess escaped from the hospital and suspected to be hiding nearby. When you have a film directed by Scorcese with Dicaprio in it, what else you need! Shutter Island’s great success lies with Marty’s superior command and flair in delivering a simple plot as a sophisticated psychological thriller. Dicaprio portrays Edward as a desperate one in finding the truth in a brilliant manner that we start to follow him in his quest to solve the puzzle. Shutter Island combines variety of genre like detective, fantasy, period, film noir and psychological thriller, and heavily influenced by Hitchcock films.

7. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) – USA
Director: David Fincher
Financially broken journalist Mikael Blomkvist is hired by leading business magnet Henrik Vanger and assisted by an aggressive and talented computer hacker Lisbeth Salander, to find a woman from Vanger family who has been missing for 40 years. Fincher has given yet another immensely enjoyable film with a captivating plot staged brilliantly. The film is technically superior, well acted, excellently shot and progresses in fast pace. You will never get a boring or dull moment with captivating performances from Craig and Rooney Mara. An apt choice for those who prefer a fast paced mystery thriller.