Should I Watch..? Everly
What's the big deal?
Everly is an action thriller film released in 2014 and was co-written and directed by Joe Lynch. The film centres on Everly, a sex worker for a Triad gang boss who has to fend off a variety of hitmen within the confines of her apartment. The film stars Salma Hayek, Akie Kotabe, Laura Cepeda, Aisha Ayamah and Togo Igawa. Originally released on iTunes before receiving a theatrical release, the movie received mostly negative press from critics for deriding the film for its poor story and excessive violence and gore. Given Lynch's previous work in the horror genre both as an actor and director however, this shouldn't really have come as any great surprise.
What's it about?
Everly works as a sex slave for ruthless crime boss Taiko who dispatches a number of his heavies to her apartment after discovering that she's been colluding with the police to bring down his empire. Somehow, Everly manages to kill Taiko's men but this only infuriates Taiko more. As the evening progresses, Taiko sends more and more outlandish assassins to kill Everly who gets increasingly desperate as the night wears on.
In addition to the variety of killers coming for her, Everly also has to contend with her fellow sex slaves who are all contacted by Taiko with the promise of a rather large bounty. Over time, Everly has no choice but to contact her estranged mother Edith for help - Everly wishes her young daughter Maisie to escape the same fate as her and offers Edith a suitcase full of cash to try and escape. But with the building surrounded and rapidly filling with Taiko's men, will any of them live to see the morning?
Release Date (UK)
26th June, 2015
What's to like?
Although it's some time ago since she blasted into wider attention in Robert Rodriguez's Desperado, Hayek certainly looks to have retained her familiarity with guns. In some respects, she is the perfect choice for the lead in a movie mainly concerned with boobs and bullets - in that order. If she's not completely naked then she'll be wearing something to accentuate those famous curves of hers from a nightie to a tank-top and sweatpants. Her performance, such as it is, mainly consists of gritting her teeth through each of the action scenes but frankly, she looks too professional to convince me she's a repressed prostitute. In fact, I half suspected that she might have been moonlighting as one of Taiko's henchmen. Maybe she was watching El Mariachi a little too closely.
The film gives us precious little in the way of story so instead supplies a steady stream of excessive and noisy violence, enough gore to provide a vampire buffet and sadistic scenes of torture and implied sexual assault. It's not what you'd call a happy film as it seems content to wallow in its own disgusting juices like a tramp in a bath. Clearly, there is an audience for this sort of thing but I'm not it, I'm afraid - it's almost too much. However, Lynch clearly knows what he wants to see and the film wears its influences proudly on its sleeve.
- The movie features a disturbing cameo from Masashi Fujimoto who UK viewers will remember played the bald host Mr Banzai on the Channel 4 gameshow Banzai in the early Noughties. Fujimoto first found fame as an opera singer.
- The film was shot almost entirely in Belgrade, Serbia. Lynch stated that the reason for this was because he wanted to spend a few months shooting in a foreign country "like big time directors always claim to want to do".
- For a long time, Kate Hudson was attached to star but after development delays, she dropped out and Hayek got the part instead.
What's not to like?
The only other action film I can think of that almost completely dispensed with a script is the Indonesian action-blast The Raid which, coincidentally, also takes place in a single location (a block of apartments as opposed to a single room). But while that film offered up plenty of brutal martial-arts action and explosive set-pieces, Everly feels positively sedate by comparison. The constant stream of action and bizarre bad guys gets monotonous very quickly and the film has nothing else to offer besides more of the same. It's also ill thought-out as every pistol, shotgun and rifle seem to be fully loaded at a moment's notice - even the discarded ones seem to be reloaded by pixies once they're picked back up again.
As this endless parade of pyrotechnic nonsense continued, it just got sillier and sillier. Take the Masochist who is apparently immune to damage and pain, judging by how many shots to the chest he can take while still charging at poor Everly. Surely a masochist is supposed to feel pain, that's the point! By the time Taiko himself appeared in true "I'll just have to do it myself"-fashion, I was beyond caring. I couldn't invest myself in the movie at any level besides soaking up the blood like a sponge. Afterwards, I felt seedy and in need of a shower.
Should I watch it?
I'm sure Salma could have picked any number of projects to pay the bills but the fact remains that Everly is not a great film. It's your standard B-movie outing that regards sexy women, noisy gun fights and lashings of blood above things like tension, characterisation and plot. This might float your boat if modern action movies are too tame for you but personally, I'd rather watch any number of girls-with-guns film than this one.
Great For: hard-core action fans, anyone with a crush on Salma Hayek
Not So Great For: the squeamish, anyone with a weak stomach, anyone looking for a story
What else should I watch?
Long associated with the sort of film Russ Meyer normally produced, the girl-with-gun sub-genre seems to be back in a big way these days. Studios have woken up to the fact that not every audience member is a young white male expecting this sort of disposable trash. MMA star Gina Carano attempted to launch her Hollywood career with Haywire, a stylish but shallow flick involving Carano kicking several bodily fluids out of her main co-stars. Geena Davis blows stuff up alongside Samuel L Jackson in under-rated thriller The Long Kiss Goodnight. Even A-listers these days are doing their bit with Zoe Saldana going through the motions in Colombiana while Angelina Jolie tries to forget her UN Ambassador's role whilst evading her pursuers in the over-rated Salt.
However, my personal favourite example is something a little different. Hanna has a strange, almost dream-like quality to it which sees Saoirse Ronan play a young teenager born to become an assassin far away from the civilised world. When her enemies come and target her, she fights back in the only way she knows how. Beautifully shot and scored, the film feels like an old-fashioned Cold War thriller and is something very different from disappointing efforts like Everly.
© 2015 Benjamin Cox