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Haywire (2011)
Steven Soderbergh, USA/Ireland

When Steven Soderbergh announced his return to filmmaking recently (after a short lived 'retirement' from the craft), I was ecstatic. He's one of the most talented and versatile filmmakers in Hollywood, and a film like Haywire is just a prime example of how good he can be. And let's start by getting something out in the open; Gina Carano is a badass, and seeing her rip through fight scenes one after the other is the best kind of eye candy you can ask for. Pitting her against the likes of Channing Tatum and Michael Fassbender - actors who tend to epitomize masculinity on screen - was such a nice reversal of gender expectations. One that probably didn't get as much notice as it should have. But there's also a technical aspect to Haywire's fight scenes that Soderbergh and team should be credited for. In lieu of the kinetic camera movement and jumpy edits that pervade most fight scenes in modern day filmmaking, Soderbergh employs a stillness that is both off-putting and uniquely powerful. It's hard to say if these scenes feel more real as a result of this stylistic choice, but what's clear is that they feel much more visceral and intense. Every cut felt precise and calculated, which created a different sense of kinetic energy that we're used to seeing in action movies. I found myself holding my breath each time a fight took off, and each punch and choke hold landed at just the right time. We've seen Carano fight in other movies since Haywire, but those movies have not been able to touch what she does here. And that's by no fault of her own, she's just not in the right kind of movies. When all is said and done, Gina Carano knows how to fight, and Steven Soderbergh knows how to film a fight. Let's hope they work together again before Soderbergh decides to retire for good.

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