Posted by: markfender | October 23, 2012

Haywire

I just watched Haywire. So that’s a thing.

This is Steven Soderbergh’s second “stunt casting” movie. This time around, he’s got MMA fighter Gina Carano swearing revenge against a bunch of A-listers. Overall, the movie was pretty good if a little anticlimactic. Once revenge was sworn, the movie wrapped up in about five scenes with little dramatic tension. The fight scenes were good. The first scene in the diner was particularly brutal with the fight scene in the hallway and the one against Michael Fassbender being particular standouts. Gina Carano does well with what was given her.

Probably the biggest annoyance was that they dubbed her voice. They gave her the voice of someone who’d been smoking a lot more, which didn’t work for me. I don’t necessarily know what Gina Carano sounds like in real life, but the voice they gave her didn’t sound like it matched what she should sound like. Watching the behind-the-scenes stuff, it was more obvious. A cut from Gina Carano explaining the work she did to prepare for the role would be set against a scene from the movie, making it really obvious that this wasn’t the same voice. I’m not sure why Soderbergh made that choice. It seems like, if you’re doing this sort of stunt casting, you’d take the person you’re given, warts and all. Obviously, when casting a non-actor, they’re doing what they can to lessen any acting she might have to do: not asking for much emotion, not giving her many lines, etc. But replacing her voice? Weird.

This contrasts with Soderbergh’s other stunt cast film: The Girlfriend Experience, in which real-life porn star Sasha Grey plays a callgirl. That movie was much worse. It was aimless and listless. Sasha Grey has an incredibly flat affect, so any acting you might have been expecting was pretty much lost in the wash. Not to mention that there’s no plot to speak of. There were also no A-listers to reign in the really mopey bits. The budget for Haywire was 23 times what the budget for The Girlfriend Experience was, but it also made money unlike the porn star version.

So, what is Steven Soderbergh doing with these stunt castings? Is it a commentary on America’s relationship with sex and violence and how one is far more acceptable than the other? While that’s certainly the college term paper answer, I’m not sure it has any real bearing. If that were true, than the call girl movie should have maybe featured some sex, which it did not. Maybe it’s an attack on the Hollywood machine? I’d buy that more if it wasn’t from Steven Soderbergh, who’s made such films as Traffic and Ocean’s 11, which featured more than their fair shares of “brand names.” Maybe he’s just bored with working with people who know what they’re doing?

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