Well, this is a kick in the pants. (And the face… and pretty much anywhere else Gina Carano could knock you on your butt clear into next week.) In addition to a less-than-impressive opening weekend at the box office, Steven Soderbergh’s well-reviewed action caper Haywire earned a dreadful, if not entirely baffling, D+ grade from CinemaScore.
The film, which has already earned plenty of comparisons to being a female version of the Bourne series, is complete with a knock-out leading lady who knocks out all of her leading men (see left: poor Ewan McGregor), Michael Fassbender (in a towel: A+!), Bill Paxton (with a mustache!), stunning action sequences (the hotel room, the snowy car chase), and a killer last line. So what gives?
While the mixed martial artist’s acting skills were certainly not as polished as her ability to destroy her competition (the first-time movie star, whose voice was altered for the film, noticeably took a lesson from the Kristen Stewart Lip Biting School of Acting), her character Mallory Kane was still, quite simply, a badass. It’s especially curious considering audiences had a hankering to watch some female butt-kicking, as Kate Beckinsale’s Underworld: Awakening topped the box office with an impressive $25.4 million and earned a superior A- CinemaScore grade.
Of course, fans of the Underworld saga already have an attachment to Beckinsale’s Selene, so familiarity could have helped in this particular case. Then again, franchise devotion didn’t help The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1 from getting anything higher than a surprisingly low B+.
It’s fair to keep in mind that CinemaScore grades haven’t always been necessarily kind to more thoughtful action flicks like Haywire and, of course, Drive. Ryan Gosling’s moody, blood-soaked masterpiece was stamped with a C- grade when some audiences went in expecting another Fast and Furious and were instead treated to a mind-blowing (literally for many characters) and slow-burning crime drama. (On the complete other end of the spectrum Oscar front-runner The Help earned a rare A+ grade during its opening weekend. So is the key ingredient to a high score is being a sure-fire crowd-pleaser? Or horror of horrors, the other key ingredient from The Help‘s infamous pie.)
While it would be unfair to say that Haywire was widely disliked by audiences across the country (CinemaScore, much like Nielsen ratings, can’t gauge everyone), is it another case of moviegoers feeling mislead à la Drive, or was the film simply a letdown? The not-nearly-packed-for-a-Friday-night crowd I watched Haywire with in a theater in Manhattan seemed to enjoy themselves plenty for 93 minutes of pure escapism, but perhaps we were the exception to the rule. I’m curious PopWatchers, were you disappointed by Haywire or does the grade from CinemaScore not reflect the reaction you had to the movie? Share in the comments section below.