A woman faces down assassins sent by her ex, a mob boss, while holed up in her apartment.
Everly, the new film from director Joe Lynch (Wrong Turn 2 (2007), Knights Of Badassdom (2013)), opens with what I’m assuming is the aftermath of a violent gang rape. It’s here that we’re introduced to the title character as she drags herself, in the nude, to the bathroom. She closes the door behind her, reaches into her toilet and pulls out a plastic bag with a cell phone and a pistol in it. All the while, the men who debased her are banging on the door, trying to get in, as she makes 2 calls – one to the police & one to her mother. When she doesn’t get an answer from either one of them, she slowly puts the gun to her head, just as the men outside break down the bathroom door…
Then, Everly (Salma Hayek) gets pissed off.
You see, Everly has gone rogue and turned informant against her pimp/boss, Taiko (Hiroyuki Watanabe) and he isn’t taking it very well. She’s been in his service as a prostitute for over four years – actually, enslaved is a better description of her circumstances. She’s literally been kept inside her apartment the whole time, taken away from her daughter Maisey (Aisha Ayamah) and her mother, Edith (Laura Cepeda). After a short, but terse phone call from Taiko telling her that she’s going to die shortly, Everly makes plans to get out of the apartment and to her family. But Taiko has put a $50,000 bounty on her head – and the building is full of prostitutes that can really use that money. And that’s not taking into account all of the professional assassins, policemen & swat teams that Taiko has under his control. The film shifts into high gear five minutes after it begins, and it never lets up for a single solitary second, with Everly doing battle against a literal army of men & women who want to collect that bounty.
The entire film takes place in Everly’s apartment, and the hallway just outside of it. And while that might sound limiting (especially for an action movie), it all works perfectly. Lynch does a masterful job of having his camera slink around the apartment/hallway, making them look/feel a lot bigger than they actually are. He also makes some bold decisions in terms of camera placement/framing shots during some fight scenes. There’s a fight between Everly and an assassin in an elevator midway through the film which is shot from down the hallway – not actually in the elevator as you might’ve predicted. This might sound wrong, but Lynch makes it one of the standout sequences in the film because of the offbeat camera placement. One of the running jokes in the film is that she literally can’t open her door because every time she tries to leave, there’s someone out there with a gun waiting for her, so 95% of the film is set in her apartment. The one time when she actually makes it downstairs, she’s instantly met by a group of policemen who drag her back into the apartment to await Taiko’s retribution.
As the film continues, and Everly keeps killing everyone in her sight, the bodies start piling up in the apartment. One sequence features Everly having to clean up the gaggle of corpses & weapons, because her mother & daughter are coming to the apartment, and it’s all set to a jazzy rendition of “Deck The Halls” (the film takes place during the Christmas holiday). It’s a funny scene, but it also gives us a bit of insight into Everly’s character and how capable she actually is, especially under pressure. Eventually her mother & daughter arrive (they tell the police they’re visiting someone else), and the rest of the film is essentially a violent, gore soaked ballet of blood & bullets. Everly has enough weapons to arm a small army, and she takes advantage of all of it in her struggle. But not all of her attackers are armed with guns, as she soon finds out while she’s being tortured by a man who calls himself “The Sadist” (Togo Igawa) and his partner, “The Masochist” (Masashi Fujimoto). Trust me when I tell you that you’ve never seen a pair of villains like these two, they nearly steal the film right out from under Hayek’s nose.
Originally, Kate Hudson was slated to play Everly and she was attached to the film for quite awhile. But eventually the part fell to Hayek and in all honesty, there is no way that Hudson could make Everly as compelling a character as Hayek does. She’s not known for her action roles, and the last time I saw her was as Adam Sandler’s wife in last years Grown Ups 2, but she’s all fire and brimstone here! As a woman determined to save her family in the face of unimaginable odds, she’s absolutely note perfect. And while it seems that Lynch’s camera seems to objectify her breasts a bit more than necessary, there’s way too much going on to really pay much attention to them. Hayek’s Everly is a confident and competent hellfire that acknowledges the fact that she’s going to die before the night is over, but doesn’t plan on going out without a fight.
Everly is going to be compared to films like Die Hard (1988), Kill Bill: Vol 1 (2003), The Raid: Redemption (2011) & maybe even Taken (2008), but its female protagonist sets it apart from them and films of similar ilk. It’s a hyper violent, bloody, explosive good time that will keep you breathless from one bombastic sequence to the next. I’d describe it as an action movie filled with horrific setpieces (The red stuff is spilled all over the place), and crazy fight sequences, it literally never stops coming at you. And in the center of it all is Hayek, defiantly staring down everyone that comes after her – and shooting them. Or slicing them. Or melting them. And it all ends with a deliriously bold crane shot that fits to a tee. Everly is one hell of a great film that all fans of genre films must see.
Everly – 4.5 out of 5 shrouds.
Everly is now available on VOD. Radius/TWC releases it in select theaters on Feb. 27th.