Everly – Film Review
I would have given an action movie with Salma Hayek in the lead a watch in any case.
It’s a shame the story wasn’t on board.
TL;DR Everly is doused with the bloody schlock that Joe Lynch commands so well, and Salma Hayek is fiercely stoic as the protagonist. And I even dug the fact that the entire movie takes place within the confines of a single apartment. But the story is barely even an excuse plot, and gets hammered home much, much too hard. Alas. 2 out of 5 stars.
I would have been happy with all style and no substance. If the movie hadn’t grasped so hard at what little substance is chokes up.
The plot is fairly simple: Everly (Salma Hayek) is an unwilling prostitute to a crime lord named Taiko. She’s been scheming to get out, but Taiko catches onto her, and sends first his men, then her fellow prostitutes, and later ever more bizarre assassins, to murder her. She also has a young daughter who she’s been unable to raise due to her forced prostitution, and in an effort to keep her safe, Everly bizarrely arranges for her mother to come to the apartment with her daughter. Unsurprisingly, the mum gets killed, but Everly eventually has a gore-tacular showdown with Taiko, wins while sustaining mortal injuries, and uses her dying breath to save her daughter from the final, lumbering assassin. Subplots include: a kindly fellow prostitute who chooses to help Everly, and gets killed for her troubles; a dying gangster in Everly’s apartment whom she befriends; and buckets and buckets of blood.
It’s the Joe Lynch special.
Really, Everly suffers from a very similar problem to 50 Shades of Grey: the movie, as a piece of film, is very well made. But the story is a broken bore.
I would delight at every gory turn that the movie takes, but then be immediately knocked down by the stupid, thin plotting about that bloody daughter.
Can’t Everly just want to get out of forced sex slavery for herself?
Why I hate this movie:
It’s yet another otherwise badass, one woman army being saddled with “must save child” as her sole motivation. Everly takes things one step further by having Everly stating several times that she doesn’t expect nor want, as it stands, to make it out of tonight alive. She just wants to ensure the safety of her child. Is it so unbelievable for a woman to want to live their own life? Will we not accept them unless they’ve got a child to save?
I’m no militant, unpleasable, third wave feminist, but goddamn.
Everly’s decision to have her mother and daughter join her at the apartment is insane. It becomes clear that Mama and Daughter are being hunted by Taiko’s men, so Everly reasons that the safest place for them to be is under her protection. As this is a balls-out action movie, that largely proves to be correct. But the logic is bad. “Why take a chance for my mum and daughter to outrun the gangsters, when I can bring them to the one place in the world that we are 100% sure will be swarming with gangsters?”
Everly’s mum, naturally, gets murdered the fuck up. Good Job, Everly.
Before her actual death from a sniper, though, she gets force fed some acid by the Sadist (one of the more flamboyant assassins). Everly cures her of this by sticking her fingers down her throat to vomit it out. No harm done.
This would have been fine, except the Sadist is shortly thereafter killed when Everly force feeds him some acid. Which very quickly burns through him and spills his guts out onto the floorboards. Inconsistent.
The dying gangster nice guy is the one who recommends Everly bring her mum and daughter to the apartment, by the way. He uses some “eye of the storm” reasoning. Ugh.
Oh, and the movie ends with Everly dying, having succeeded in her mission to give her life to save her daughter. But just before the credits roll, we hear Everly’s breath of life. Way to invalidate your emotional ending, movie.
But it’s not all bad:
I didn’t know that the entire movie would be set inside the apartment (and the hallway on the same floor). About halfway through I figured out that it was going that way, and I thought it’d piss me off. But it didn’t. The movie keeps things impressively kinetic, despite the small setting.
I also expected, just from a quick look at the marketing, for it to be an exploitation film-esque “killer hookers on a rampage” type movie. Which, for the record, I would have been fine with. But that only constitutes a portion of the first act, before moving on to bigger threats. Who aren’t wearing fetish gear. It was actually very refreshing.
Everly’s non-sexualisation is one of the biggest surprise successes of the movie. I was fully expecting for Salma to be decked out in a cleaveage-popping, skintight, makeup-heavy costume. But instead she mostly rolls around barefoot in sweatpants. This is exemplified in Everly’s repeated attempts to put on some skyscraping stilettos when she tries to leave the apartment, and she has to renege and take them off so she can fight properly. Bravo, movie.
The movie’s greatest strength, and the one I was fully expecting, is the violence factor. Wrong Turn 2 has some of the best action horror violence of the last decade, and although Knights of Badassdom was rubbish, Joe Lynch brought the violence there, too. Everly skates deftly on the line of ridiculousness when it comes to the gore, just on the side of “that’s a lot, but I’ll accept it because it’s a movie,” and avoiding “I wonder how many assistants put their backs out moving those barrels of fake blood onto set?”
There are some effectively juicy kills. My favourite is when Everly takes out an entire lift (elevator, for you Americans) full of gangsters by first shotgunning the lead gangster back into the lift, and then chucking a grenade in. It explodes just as the doors close, sending a generous spray of blood nonchalantly through the crack. It shines.
Everly also dispatches an attack dog by throwing a grenade for it and calling it a “ball.” Genius.
And I’ve got a soft spot for a good cheek stab, and Everly perpetrates one against a sai-wielding hooker enemy.
Mr Dying Nice Guy is a good sounding board for Everly. He admits that he never enjoyed all the violent acts Taiko put his employees up to, and was just as frightened of the boss man as his victims. Aww.
The Sadist and the Masochist are nasty-ass assassins. Everly’s defeat of the Sadist ends in that epic stomach melt-through. And the Masochist, supposedly killed near to when he appears, comes back for the finale and kills the kindly hooker who was harbouring Everly’s daughter. He almost kills the daughter, but Everly takes him out with her dying strength.
It’s set during Christmastime, and there’s a delightful montage of Everly cleaning up her victims-so-far to prepare for her mum and daughter coming, set to Deck The Halls. It upholds the tone of the movie perfectly.
Oh, and Everly defeats Taiko by first beating the shit out of him, demanding he commit Seppuku, taking the Seppuku knife to the chest when Taiko fights back, impaling Taiko with a long katana, twisting it, and then wrenching it up through his body in a partial, vertical bisection. It’s wet.
There are a lot of great things about this movie, so I wanted to make sure they weren’t left unnoticed. But for all its virtues (and my Joe Lynch worship), it is squashed so hard against its bad plotting that it can’t triumph. Such a waste. 2 out of 5 stars.