Everly (2001) / Action-Thriller
MPAA Rated: R for strong bloody violence, torture, nudity, sexual images and language
Running Time: 92 min.
Cast: Salma Hayek, Akie Kotabe, Laura Cepeda, Togo Igawa, Hiroyuki Watanabe, Aisha Ayakah
Director: Joe Lynch
Screenplay: Yale Hannon
Review published January 25, 2015
On occasion, I'll be asked why I rail against what I call "action porn" when there are movies I will recommend that are sometimes equally violent or explosive as those I despise. Just what is the difference between Christmas-tinged confined-space actioners Die Hard and Everly? Answer: Die Hard's John McClane is an average Joe who performed self-sacrificing feats of amazing heroism when he had no other choice, grounded, presumably, in events that can happen in the real world we live in. Everly's titular hero performs those feats just as easily as breathing, and she does it after putting on eye shadow, six-inch heels, and a gun she likes to shoot side grip for style points, ungrounded, existing only in the fantasy underworld world concocted by the filmmakers.
Everly (Hayek, Lonely Hearts) shouldn't really be that skilled with a gun, or even fighting in general, as she is, by trade a prostitute. A prostitute in a heap of trouble, that is, as Taiko (Watanabe), her yakuza boss, is out to get her when he discovers she has turned informant to a police force she didn't know he also ran. He's out to get her, but she's a crafty one, and one that is vowing to stay alive just long enough to make sure her mother and estranged daughter are out of his evil clutches. With a $50,000 bounty on her head, even her friends and neighbors are going to want to take her down before she can even get out of her large studio apartment.
Everly is stylishly directed by Joe Lynch (Knights of Badassdom, Wrong Turn 2), who seems to crib quite a bit from the techniques of Tarantino (especially Kill Bill) , the Wachowskis (especially Bound), Chan-wook Park (especially Oldboy), and Tom Tykwer (especially Run Lola Run). The difference here is that all of those films that inspire him are easily over a decade old, and their cycle of stylish, tongue-in-cheek ultra-violence has already come and gone. Also, given that his muse Salma Hayek is starring here, it's obviously influenced by the grindhouse efforts of Robert Rodriguez, with his eye-candy mix of babes, bullets and buckets of blood galore.
Lynch and screenwriter Yale Hannon came up with the idea behind this flick, which plays like the mirror opposite of such films as The Raid: Redemption and Dredd. Instead of a resourceful good guy having to traverse several floors of progressively more menacing baddies in a building, we have baddies having to progress several floors to try to kill the resourceful good gal. Everly is overly familiar otherwise, with characters and entire scenes that only remind you of something else you've seen and liked better. While Lynch is quite good when it comes to framing action sequences and sumptuously mounted tracing shots, his instincts when it comes to how they begin or end are very weak, especially his overuse of the "baddie getting killed right at the last possible second" gimmick.
Everly rides its wave of titillation from beginning to end, bolstered by horror-flick levels of graphic violence, blood, fetish-clad hookers, and cartoonishly sadistic villains. Hayek, even at 48 years old, is certainly a game action star, and Lynch has good chops when it comes to some of the the visual flourishes, but the ideas behind the flick, as well as its lackluster screenplay and dumb plotting, makes this the kind of movie only of interest to those who get juiced at the sight of women in sexy outfits covered in viscera, flinging knives and firing off machine guns ad nauseam.
©2015 Vince Leo