PLOT: A desperate woman must fight for survival against an army of assassins in the confined walls of an apartment.
REVIEW: There is something about director Joe Lynch that I find very entertaining. And in his latest, the ridiculously over-the-top femme fatale feature EVERLY starring Salma Hayek, he takes action to a huge and goofy extreme. While the violence may be on the outrageous side however, there is a dark undercurrent which is sometimes a bit overbearing. This includes the aftermath of a vicious gang rape as well as a young child and her grandmother in extreme danger. This is a pretty f*cked up flick in a whole lot of ways. At least Lynch keeps this brutal tale slightly on the odd side as to not make it a chore to sit through. In fact, as twisted as it gets, it can be quite fun.
When we first meet the title character Everly (Hayek) she is naked, desperate and has been brutalized. Somehow she pulls herself together, uses her brain and takes care of business. And what a business she is capable of. Once she finds her way to some hidden weapons, she is able to single-handly kill a crap ton of people who aim to make sure she is dead and buried herself. You even have a couple of other "working girls" who are looking to get in on a reward placed for the price on her head. Why do all these people want her deceased? That would be because her powerful and sadistic boss Taiko (Hiroyuki Watanabe) wants it that way. Things get even more complicated for Everly when the young daughter she was forced to abandon - as well as her heartbroken mother - are placed in jeopardy.
It is almost impossible not to think of Quentin Tarantino and KILL BILL while watching EVERLY play out. Yet there is certainly a different energy that Lynch gives to this small budget bloodbath. Considering most of the film is shot in a single location, the director manages to create enough tension to keep the viewer invested. As he slowly reveals just exactly who Everly is, and why so many people are after her, her realization can occasionally feel a little predictable and unsatisfying. This is a character that we have seen many times before, yet it still works well enough.
What really made EVERLY spark as well as it does is finding the right actress. Salma Hayek proves to be very effective when it comes to shooting up the bad guys, and trying to protect those she loves. The relationship she shares with one poor guy she calls "Dead Man" (Akie Kotabe) helps give the actress somebody who is slightly sympathetic to work off of. However, Ms. Hayek is clearly relishing the outrageous action sequences and handling some serious weaponry. The only times that she seemed to feel a little uncomfortable is during a scene where a little sadomasochistic imagery comes into play - however that fit perfectly in the context of this ultra-violent opus.
As twisted and dark as this flick gets, it is told with a sense of much needed black humor. Screenwriter Yale Hannon (who also shares story credit with Lynch) has no intention of playing any of it seriously. The situation Everly finds herself in is utterly horrific, yet so ridiculously dumb, that the outlandish heights occasionally get tiresome. Thankfully however, the filmmakers pack it all into a very short running time without overstaying its welcome. And even when the jokes fall flat, there is a moment or two that bring the smiles right back. Jennifer Blanc shares one such moment with Hayek, and it was fun to see two tough chicks battle it out in a surprisingly charming way.
EVERLY may not be the smartest flick on the block, but it sure knows how to have fun. While Joe Lynch takes on all too serious subject matters, he manages to mostly prevent it from gettting too grim. In addition to Lynch's exhuberant display is the more than willing leading lady who gladly relishes in the experience. EVERLY is a popcorn flick through and through, one that features a game leading lady and a director with a passion for excess. Is it great? Not really, but it can sure be entertaining when it wants to be.
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