This good-looking action/drama, casually paced and set against intriguing, late-night backdrops, is unfortunately a total flatline in terms of story and characters, with the exception of Ruiz. Visual FX veteran Sasso makes his writing, directing, and acting debut with Haymaker; he also produced, edited, and -- yes -- provided the film's effects. His strength is certainly in the visuals, and he cooks up a slick, lush, neo-noir atmosphere in locations set all over the world. It's reminiscent of old MTV music videos or quietly obscure 1980s movies like Choose Me and Mona Lisa.
Sasso apparently had enough pull to assemble a fun supporting cast, including D.B. Sweeney, Udo Kier, John Ventimiglia, Veronica Falcón, and stunt coordinator Zoë Bell. But that's about where the good stuff ends. Haymaker's story doesn't have any dramatic or emotional pull. Nick decides to take the job guarding Nomi after only a second's hesitation, and his decision to return to fighting seems equally arbitrary. And Sasso is stiff in the role of Nick. Although he pulls off the fight scenes well enough, he comes off as robotic and blank in the other scenes that require him to be human. Happily, Ruiz makes the most of her role, even if it does revolve around a series of pop-star clichés. She has star power to burn, and there's never any doubt that she'd be a phenomenon.