VOD film review: Everly
Nicely staged moments4
Matthew Turner | On 13, Aug 2015
Director: Joe Lynch
Cast: Salma Hayek, Hiroyuki Watanabe, Laura Cepeda, Togo Igawa, Akie Kotabe, Gabriella Wright
Watch Everly online in the UK: Shudder UK / Amazon Prime / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / iTunes / Rakuten TV / Google Play
Everly is a schlocky action flick that takes place in a single location on Christmas Eve, a bit like Die Hard but with a scantily-clad Salma Hayek instead of a scantily-clad Bruce Willis. And also, not nearly as good as Die Hard.
The film opens with an impressive overhead shot of a naked-but-artfully-framed Everly (Hayek) stumbling into a bathroom and retrieving a gun and a phone from a bag concealed in the toilet. She frantically calls a cop, wondering where he is: she’s ratted out a vicious Yakuza boss and he’s none too happy about it. Moments later, someone bursts into the bathroom and tries to shoot Everly, but she fights back, killing everyone in the adjoining room as well.
It transpires that Yakuza boss Taiko (Hiroyuki Watanabe) has kept her as a sex slave-slash-prostitute in the same apartment for the past four years. When the phone rings, it is, of course, Taiko – her missing cop is dead (his head is wrapped in a box on the table to prove it) and, what’s more, as a punishment for her betrayal, Taiko has placed a bounty on her head and plans to kill her mother (Laura Cepeda) and five year-old daughter (Aisha Ayamah) for good measure. Cue a never-ending stream of would-be assassins showing up at the apartment and trying to kill Everly, including a multitude of yakuza henchmen and several of her fellow prostitutes who live on the same floor.
Leaving aside the question of how Everly is able to go from 4-Years-A-Slave to gun-toting, grenade-chucking, blade-wielding killing machine (complete with nasty flesh wound) at the click of a trigger, Hayek (48, but you’d never know it) puts plenty of physicality into her performance and proves she can kick ass with the best of them. There are also colourful supporting performances from Akie Kotabe (as a dying henchman) and Togo Igawa (as a hitman called The Sadist), while Watanabe makes a suitably nasty villain.
Lynch (Wrong Turn 2) is a regular on the FrightFest circuit, so he knows his way around a gore scene and there are a couple of nicely staged moments, such as Everly throwing a grenade into a lift full of henchmen just as the doors close. He also shoots the fight sequences in a refreshingly clean style, eschewing the sort of choppy editing that often ruins action scenes. However, the fight sequences quickly become repetitive, making you question the wisdom of confining the action to a single location, when she could have been battling her way out of the building, as in The Raid.
The other main problem is that the film’s tone is relentlessly nasty, frequently indulging in leering torture porn and failing to convince on an emotional level, despite Hayek’s best efforts. That tone (especially when it becomes clear what happened to Everly just before the first scene) has a pervasive effect that leaves the film’s few attempts at humour feeling empty and flat – one scene where she cleans up the body-strewn apartment before her mother arrives, for example, is a strong comic idea, but falls flat. Everly simply isn’t as much fun as it should have been.
Everly is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription. It is also available to stream online on Shudder UK, as part of a £4.99 monthly subscription, or £49.99 yearly membership.