Everly is… well, I’ll just say it: Everly is trash. In this film’s case, that’s a damn good thing. There’s no reason a film about a woman who is trying to outlast the killers hired by the mob boss she betrayed should be anything other than an unwholesome, wildly explosive, mess of a time. And that’s exactly what Joe Lynch’s follow-up to the butchered cut of Knights of Badassdom is.
From the very get-go, Everly hits you with its exploitation cinema beats, featuring a bloody, bruised, and naked Salma Hayek (as the titular character) pulling out a gun and a cell phone from a toilet. She calls the detectives. They don’t answer. So she shoots a guy. And then another guy. And another. And some more for good measure. All of this is set to Christmas music – because there’s no time like the holidays for a massacring of hookers and hired hands – and immediately followed by an old woman yelling from the apartment above Everly’s to “keep it down.” It’s the perfect introduction to a film that has no intention of either letting up or being taken seriously and it’s fine just the way it is.
From there, the film is edited viciously as it puts Everly through every single tough situation possible, almost all of which happen within the comfort of her apartment. She gets shot and stabbed, has her family threatened constantly, deals with rocket launchers, sadists with chemicals, crooked cops, and sex workers of every kind. While it’s often distasteful – something inherent in its genre – it’s almost impossible to look away from all the sleazy, but wonderfully creative, violence up on the screen.
And it’s because of Lynch’s ability to present the cornucopia of death that Yale Hannon’s paper-thin script asks for that Everly becomes so engrossing. It’s not to say that Joe Lynch has his own particular style – comparisons to Luc Besson are fair but not totally warranted – but he takes such delight in needlessly stylizing his action and not taking a single thing seriously that it’s impossible not to fall into his groove. A scene with Hayek hiding dead bodies and cleaning down her apartment for her mother’s visit, set to Raya Yarbrough performing “Deck the Halls”, is the perfect example of how gleefully deranged the movie is. It comes smack in the middle of all sorts of death and disaster, but because the violence itself is so cartoonish, the scene feels perfectly at home.
But even when Everly doesn’t want to be cartoonish, it doesn’t entirely fail. Hannon makes its leading lady’s motive for staying alive very clear: she wants to keep her mother and the daughter she barely knows safe from the man trying to kill her. As strangely compelling as it is, there’s little to no writing in the movie that actually offers up real weight, and it doesn’t have to. It’s a shameless grindhouse-style feature that only has to offer enough for its lead actress to get down-and-dirty and, boy, does she.
With great joy can it be saithat Salma Hayek nails every bit of this role, never betraying the fun, the violence, or the emotion that comes with the messy work of art that is Everly. To see her getting back into the kind of trashy goodness that she did long ago with someone like Robert Rodriguez, or even just the goofiness of something like Dogma or Wild Wild West, is delightful. For better or worse, she’s an actress who always seems to be having a good time. With Everly, it’s certainly for the better. It’s not a film for everyone, and it’s arguably not even that good a film, but you’ll know by simply watching the trailer whether or not it’s the kind of film that will directly appeal to you. If so, sit back and let the good times roll.
Directed by Joe Lynch; written by Yale Hannon; starring Salma Hayek and Hiroyuki Watanabe; 92 minutes.