Dublin is a city that works well in movies. I can buy it as a place where buskers fulfill their dreams of rock ‘n’ roll stardom. It’s fine as the backdrop for a musical comedy about a bunch of unemployed soul singers being black and proud. In Steven Sodabread’s new movie Haywire, however, it’s painfully obvious that you need a New York or a London to make a spy thriller.
It wasn’t familiarity with my birthplace that make it hard to suspend disbelief, even though Gina Carano‘s teaky depiction of rogue agent Mallory appeared to run around Dublin with nothing but contempt for natural laws of geography. In one chase sequence she appeared to have crossed the Liffey three times without using a bridge, which can only mean that Aperture Science has joined Amazon, Facebook and Twitter in basing their European offices there.
It wasn’t even the fact that a room at the Shelbourne Hotel was trashed and no-one bothered to complain until the following morning. “Calm down,” I muttered, “it’s still more realistic than Leap Year.”
No, what made me realise that this was pure fantasy was the fact that Grafton Street still had shops open and people spending money. There’s suspension of disbelief and then there’s the pure naivety of believing Ireland still has an economy.
What about the rest of the movie? Remember the sort of show that would be on Saturday evenings on ITV in the eighties? That’s exactly it – Haywire felt like a pilot for one of those bloodless, gung-ho, let’s-shoot-a-lot-of-weapons-and-have-a-bit-of-fighting-before-bathtime and nothing more nuanced than a two-part episode of the A-Team.
I’m not saying the parts of the story wedged between the She-ra-esque set pieces were dull but, at one point, an actual tumbleweed rolled past in the mid-distance as Michael Douglas tried to exposit his way out of a paper-thin plot. Still, at ninety minutes, it’s not going to be too much of your life wasted.
Johnny Goodhero is tired. He’s been surviving for months since the cliché virus struck. His only friends a baseball bat and a 9mm pistol. One last plan, to get across a Zombie infested battlefield without being eaten, to the temporary safety of a nuclear bunker.
Johnny tries not to gag as he covers himself in rent zombie guts. The squishy noises sound like the the horrific noises that come from your parents’ bedroom at three in the morning when all you want is a glass of chocolate milk. A terrible set of bling begins to form, liver earrings, colon necklaces, a visceral survival suit.
He crawls. So slowly, the Somme of moaning and scratching all fogged around. An invisible orchestra takes up a beat, industrial timekeeping keeping pace with the undead hearts of his costume. He reaches forward to a key lying forgotten on the ground. Salvation named Chubb. Touching one side, it’s so close, an undead arm reaches for the other. Crescendos. Slow motions. A flesh-stripped face comes into view. Johnny raises his piece. Recognition and hunger leap at clean food. Trigger pressed. An explosion.
“Wake up. It’s already twelve and we have things to do!”
I really shouldn’t read the Walking Dead last thing at night.
May you be given Leonard Nimmoy’s DNA and a healthy ovum.
I loved the original short movies. I got very excited when the trailer came out. I even braved the Christmas shoppers on a lunchtime hike from Waterloo to Carnaby Street to see their attempt at viral marketing. I’m happy to say that the movie itself didn’t disappoint.
On paper, it sounds like a complete farce. A Finnish comedy-horror about miners unearthing the real Father Christmas, who isn’t as jolly as the Coca-Cola corporation would have us believe. Instead of sneaking into people’s homes and exchange presents for gingerbread, Santa delivers spanked bottoms and boiled children. It’s then up to a bunch of reindeer herders and the only nice (if rather odd-looking) child to save the day and rescue the naughty kids.
It might just be the foreign language making it feel less of a spoof, but the movie itself has turned out to be one of the best Christmas films in years. A great mixture of creeping suspense, some genuinely scary moments, and a great heart that Disney hasn’t had since the Fifties.
I’d be interested to hear what a Finnish person thought of it; the audience at the Cambridge Picturehouse seemed to be in tears of laughter at random scenes, so much so that I was seconds away from standing up and brandishing my laminated copy of Wittertainment’s Code of Conduct. Either they were high or Finnish, in which case I’m missing out on some subtleties of their culture.
Don’t let the threat of sniggering Scandewigians put you off, however. Go and see this movie before Santa puts you on the naughty list.
You definitely don’t want to be on the naughty list.
Oxford Street will be a bloodbath if it gets out.
The Health and Safety Executive declined to comment on the issue, stating that it was a problem for the Swedish Embassy. The public is strongly advised to avoid the Oxford Circus area until the matter has been cleared up.