Monday, January 26, 2015

Everly (2015)

Stars - Salma Hayek
           Jennifer Blanc
           Hiroyuki Watanabe
Directed by:  Joe Lynch  (@TheJoeLynch)
Summary: An action/thriller centered on a woman who faces down assassins sent by her ex, a mob boss, while holed up in her apartment. (via imdb). 

There’s a moment fairly early in Joe Lynch’s Everly when our plucky heroine (Salma Hayek as the titular Everly) is on the phone with her would be captor/killer. In this scene, Salma manages such a raw emotion that it immediately draws you into her character as a living breathing entity.  It’s a moment so genuine and powerful it drives your relation with the character for the rest of the movie. Frankly, it’s the best I’ve ever seen of Salma, who somehow manages to look exactly the same as she did in Desperado (ironically what the poster is styled after). 

To say the movie starts with a bang is to understate the violence and brutality of what follows. While it never matches the sheer number and frenetic pace of something like Gareth Evans’s The Raid: Redemption, it has its own metered level of gratuitous, but splendiferous bloodshed and gore with just a soupçon of a fantastical horror bent thrown in for flavor. The stakes are undeniably real as everyone from the hired guns of her jilted “employer” to the cops and the other denizens of the building she lives in become hell-bent on seeing Everly as deceased post-haste.

We’re given some insight into Everly’s backstory that helps to underline the direness of her situation while not over-explaining and not resorting to tedious exposition dialogue. Lynch gives you enough to understand everything that’s happening without beating you over the head with it. The dialogue and action are also welcomingly peppered with humor and a touch of surrealism that helps the story move along crispy and enjoyably. With a few pointed nods at the film styles of some other directors, Lynch does a fine job walking the line between homage and blatant “hey look at this reference!” that a lot of genre directors can’t avoid.

While not a horror movie in general, it still has its feet somewhat planted in that world. Once you see the movie, and, damnit, you should see Everly, and like now (go ahead, you can come back when you’re done), you will know exactly what I mean by that. Everly belongs in the pantheon of such movies as The Last Boy Scout that are so fun it doesn’t even matter about the logic of its plot and the strange lengths characters will go to get their way. Everly is a film steeped in the fine tradition of absurdist violence a la Kill Bill, but with a firm root of realism to keep it fairly grounded too.

Paired with a flipping fantastic score by the always sure Bear McCreary, the tension and action scenes are perfectly complemented. Everly also contains perhaps the most poignant and haunting version of “Silent Night” ever set to film. Sung by Raya Yarbrough (whose voice is stellar), it greatly underscores its scene and ups the emotional impact.

As a spot of constructive criticism, I felt that one particular moment of the film was a little too ham-handedly done while it was going on, but I also understood its purpose and necessity to the story that followed. It wasn’t enough to disconnect me from the movie, but really the only part of the movie I wasn’t 100% on board with. Overall, it’s just a fun, kick-ass, action movie with some stellar moments and an infinite rewatchability factor.

Rating: 9/10
You can rent/buy Everly through iTunes or Amazon right now!


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