Why doesn’t it feel awesome to see Salma Hayek brandish video game-sized guns and liquefy bad dudes with grenades in an elevator? Why doesn’t it feel cooler or more empowering when Salma Hayek gets to threaten a sneering mobster with, “It’ll be your nightmare motherfucker!”? Everly should be fun, folks! But what we get is the hard-R, spiritual brother of Sucker Punch: a crappy, fanboy male-gaze actioner that feels startlingly misogynistic.
Salma Hayek is Everly, the hooker with the heart of gold and insides slowly filling up with bile. She’s locked in a tenement inhabited by other prostitutes trapped with her, getting degraded my mobsters on the regular. We open on an overhead of a naked, battered Everly in a bathroom after what was yet another sexcapade of the grim variety. It’s time for her to act. She can’t take it anymore. Boom. Everly shoots down her current clientele of deviant crooks with a gun she hid in the toilet tank.
It’s the first and most necessary act of aggression. Everly is declaring her freedom. You think, Awesome, she’s had enough of limp-dick mobsters with abusive sexual insecurities. It turns into a survival scenario, as the mobsters that run the joint want her dead. A bland and badly voiced criminal overlord, Taiko, puts a bounty on Everly’s head, and she faces off with a rogue’s gallery of goons, special-forces types, costumed freaks, and other prostitutes.
And how’s this for cliché motivation: she just wants her daughter back.
Joe Lynch directs this spot-off thriller. Aimed as a woman-scorned revenge fantasy, Everly just feels like the abuse of Hayek and the women around her. Everly spends 85 of this film’s 92 minutes in deep, graphic, scream-inducing pain. It’s the I Spit on Your Grave fallacy, where the revenge just can’t make up for the atrocious behavior and sadism. The men of this film live to abuse. Hookers kill hookers for some sort of comic effect that comes off as piggish. People die violent, red deaths with explosions and bullets and some teenager’s collection of sick swords, bro.
In Everly, the blood doesn’t let; it splatters, pours, gets all over the damn place. People are butchered in every graphic way imaginable. Bullets to the sternum. Sais in the mouth. Boiling acid down the ol’ gullet. Shots to the penis. By the end of Everly, you’ll hope it all goes to a blood bank. By the end of Everly, Quentin Tarantino would say, “Guys, I don’t know…”
What is it, by the way, about digital blood effects that’ll take you right out of a movie? Can no one make a CG blood effect that doesn’t look aggressively Jackson Pollacked onto a moving target? There are kills that look like they’re straight out of American Sniper. Just use buckets of blood for the love of … anyways.
Everly blows. It blows its chances as a camp cartoon, a low-rent genre film, and even a star vehicle. What are we left with amidst the blood and guts? Logical headaches.
There’s the obvious body double for Hayek, either a tongue-in-cheek gag on films like these or just poor framing (likely the latter and not that funny if the former). Lynch plays “Deck the Halls” and “Silent Night” for ironic effect, without understanding what the irony was supposed to be. Security cameras have sound systems, so Everly can listen in, like in life. After a very loud shooting, another hooker pops her head in to check in on Everly, faltering both as a logical action and a deadpan gag. Every baddie monologues, rambles really, in that devious way where a hero must suffer for way too long before comeuppance occurs. In the end, Everly seems to wanna be a badass, but winds up a dumb ass.