A desperate woman, with a bounty on her head and trapped in a lavish apartment, tries to stay alive as a group of assassins attempt to take her down is the focus of the uneven action thriller, Everly.
This wildly imaginative concept would challenge most male action figures but the fact that director Joe Lynch has a beautiful woman, Everly (Salma Hayek) performing such a feat, it raises the bar as we wonder how Lynch will execute such a visual feat. As unlikely as most of the action seems, Hayek fully commits to her assignment.
When we first meet our heroine, she has just endured a brutal sexual assault. Sold into prostitution by the brutal criminal overlord Taiko (Hiroyuki Watanabe), he has placed a bounty of $50,000 to anyone who will silence the woman who betrayed him after he discovers that she has been working with the police to bring his criminal enterprise down.
Bloodied and bruised, Everly escapes to sanctuary in the rest room, naked and nearly incoherent. As her assailants wait for her return so they can further torture her before they kill her, she is separated by a locked bathroom door where Everly finds a handgun and starts dispensing her special brand of vengeance on those who have harmed her.
But much to her chagrin, Everly discovers that instead of that being the end of her long ordeal, it is really just the beginning. Unable to leave her prison, due to constant attacks from those looking to collect the bounty, she decides the only way she can protect and see her mother Edith (Laura Cepeda) and reunite with her young daughter Maisey (Aisha Ayamah) is for them to come to her.
Written by Yale Hannon, based on a story by Lynch and Hannon, having the protagonist as a heroine versus the standard male action star is refreshing. The fact that she is as successful fending off her assailants, despite no formal training, is both a testament to Hannon’s script as much as it is a true stretch of story credibility. We’re supposed to believe that an act of desperation and urgent desire to see her daughter again, can motivate Everly to such lofty heights of survivability and skill.
Twenty years ago, Hayek played the damsel in distress opposite El Mariachi (Antonio Banderas) in the highly-stylized action thriller, Desperado. While her character had her moments, there was nothing in that film that prepared us for the cold survivalist that she portrays in this film. Lynch and Hannon’s story imagines a frenetic situation where a person is trapped in a limited space and discovers a way to subdue not only skilled assassins but crooked law enforcement personnel as well.
The type of action and violence in this film made me think of better executed stories such as The Raid 2: Berandal or the small Asian action thriller, I Saw the Devil. As she cuts a swath through a list of formidable opponents, one never gets the sense that Everly is in any real danger, despite evidence to the contrary. Displaying an almost cartoonish “Ripley-esque” sort of vibe from Alien, Everly is a fierce mama bear who will do whatever she needs to do to protect her baby.
Even the final confrontation left much to be desired as her antagonist was more content to verbally spar with her instead of just putting her out of her misery. One of the most beautiful women in films, not even the sexy, scantily-clad, kick-ass image of Hayek was enough to keep me engaged. Ultimately, her performance left me as cold as the bodies that littered her high-priced digs in this well-meaning but soulless action caper.