It’s hard to believe that a film as stylish and engaging as Haywire only came about because director Stephen Soderbergh (Sex, Lies, and Videotape, Traffic) happened across a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) cage-fighting bout on TV, and thought the league’s female sensation, Gina Carano, deserved a movie. But sometimes things just work out. Haywire blends stylized and choreographed hand-to-hand combat — Hong Kong action master John Woo would be proud — with the sort of sleek spy-thriller vibe we haven’t seen much since the heyday of James Bond. Soderbergh’s deceptively simple story of betrayal and revenge works because of the way he tells it, doling out just enough information to keep us guessing as things move forward. It doesn’t hurt that supporting actors like Michael Fassbender, Channing Tatum, Ewan MacGregor, and Antonio Banderas are happy to come along for the ride. Soderbergh’s craftsmanship is well preserved on Blu-ray. Haywire’s warm hues and remarkable detail (the director does his own cinematography under a pseudonym) come shining through, and the audio moves easily from whisper-quiet to thunderous roar as each scene requires. Two brief documentaries shed light on Soderbergh’s filmmaking chops and take us into the peculiar world of MMA.
Video: 1080p, 2.40:1. Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Extras: “Gina Carano in Training” and “The Men of Haywire” featurettes. Studio: Lionsgate.