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Haywire: when an ex-marine – now hitwoman – is framed for murder she has to set the record straight, by going straight to the top of the conspiracy. So it’s not the most original story, but the execution and tone make it stand out from the genre. It’s a stripped down travelogue spy thriller – somewhere between a Bourne film and The American – with a throwback feel, like those old-fashioned spy movies you watched with your grandparents. The action is gripping, particularly the Dublin chases and all hand-to-hand combat fighting. The lead actress (an MMA fighter by trade) works surprisingly well, even though she’s been surrounded by decent actors – as sensible backup – she doesn’t stick out much. There’s an interesting soundtrack with the odd scene having retro spy music, but mostly authentic audio that works very well during fights (grunting / punches / breathing), chases (footsteps / cars / traffic lights)… this pushes the dramatic envelope beyond what you normally get. Not unlike Contagion, Soderbergh has firmly rooted everything reality – I also see this as an important breakthrough role for Carano, who I envisage carving out a Statham/Dwane action niche. Continuously credible, and intense for the most part, Haywire is as good as it can be with the knowingly limiting story, and is as honest and believable a spy thriller as you’ll ever see.

Score: 7.5/10

Seven Pounds: (Blu Ray) can’t mention any aspect of the story without giving it away, but this is essentially ‘The Will Smith Experience’ as he plays a stern, distant and socially awkward man with a questionable past. This film stews for far too long, not revealing any of the story for the first hour, starts making sense at the 1:30 mark and the penny finally drops at 1:45. For me this is far too long to rely on a single revelation, and will leave some viewers feeling short-changed or completely zoned out. The 5.1 mix is faint but atmospheric although the picture’s pretty colourless and a lot of the shots are deliberately unclear so this isn’t worth getting on BD, unless you really like Will Smith’s hair. Because they get so little screen time the supporting cast feel like a bunch of necessary extras. Not a lot else to say really, underwhelming.

Score: 4/10