Everly is crazy. Not the character. The film. This film is crazy. And it deserves some attention for that.
This movie could be an easy one to hate, because it is totally off-key. But that is not a bad thing. Instead, Everly slams together several things that don’t seem to fit together – and makes it gel, more or less. By no means perfect, but this odd action film starring Salma Hayek might still qualify as a cult classic.
It all starts in a jarring and disorienting way. A top-down shot shows a nude Hayek stumble into a bathroom. She retrieves a plastic bag from the toilet cistern, containing a pistol and a mobile phone. Making two frantic phone calls, the woman then proceeds to gun down everyone in the apartment.
At this point you expect a ‘24 hours earlier’ or something along those lines. But not Everly. At the start of the movie we the audience stumbled into something and will just have to contend with it. The script cleverly adds hints and references to help piece the back story together, but sometimes it’s blink-and-you-miss kinda stuff.
This shock to the system never quite leaves, even after you figure out why Everly is in the situation we found her. Then the movie compounds this assault on convention in other ways. For example, the two or so scenes that contain foreign language are intentionally not subbed or translated in any way. I’m not sure why this was done, but it is intentional – since those characters tend to drop in english words that give context. For example, a torturer saying ‘something something something hydrochloric acid’ gets their point across.
Everly is also not a gun-toting female warrior in the tradition of Salt, Haywire or Hanna. If anything, she is quite inept yet incredibly lucky. Perhaps a bit too much – the audience’s suspension of disbelief is really strained at those points. But if you accept the reality Everly frolics in, those moments can slide and even fall nicely in place.
But Everly’s real knock-out blow is that it is single-location. Other than the rare use of the outside hallway and on-suite bathroom, the movies plays out pretty much inside an open-space apartment. This would be interesting if we were watching a domestic drama or romantic comedy. It’s a bit weirder when it’s Die Hard chewing on radioactive spinach.
This movie is f***ing mental, an epithet I use with full expression. The levels of violence are really in the upper reaches of the scale. In hindsight I’m not surprised, having seen director Joe Lynch’s excellent gorehound tribute Wrong Turn 2. He also made Knights of Badassdom, so Joe’s not a one-note guy.
Yet Everly is not a video nasty for the gore-loving, though it will certainly charm that crowd. Instead the whole thing felt like a distinctly Japanese experience. I kept thinking of Ichi The Killer, my personal benchmark for when a movie has truly crossed over into gonzo territory. Everly oozes that Japanese strangeness, right down the lumbering story that is often part of the experience (also an element many critics jumped on).
The trick is to just go with it. Don’t ask too many questions, because in order to do its thing Everly has to leap a plot gap here and there. But movies don’t always have to make sense, something I forget and need things like Everly as a reminder. For that you get rewarded. It’s lumbering, but not drawn out. The dialogue and logic sometimes goes awry, but not enough to alienate. And there are several truly awesome moments in filmmaking, such as a certain elevator explosion.
Everly is a brutal, odd, fun and tense movie – not for the faint of heart nor people who can only consume ADD tentpole blockbusters with a big side of spoon. Even if you are a broad-minded movie watcher, you might really dislike Everly. But it is that movie that deserves being seen at least once. And I kinda liked it!
Last Updated: May 29, 2015