Everly is an uneven but, still very entertaining action flick with a truly badass turn by Salma Hayek. Everly (Hayek) is a woman who has been imprisoned in the same apartment for four years as the personal sex slave/toy of powerful Yakuza lord, Taiko (Hiroyuki Watanabe). One day she gets tired of being passed around by his men and kills them all in a fit of rage. Now Everly has little time as she must warn her mother (Laura Cepeda) and young daughter (Aisha Ayamah) to get to safety as Taiko will be coming to kill her in retribution and her family, too. But, Everly is not going down without a fight and fight is what Taiko and his soldiers are going to get plenty of.
Directed by Joe Lynch (the fun Knights of Badassdom and Wrong Turn 2: Dead End) and written by Lynch and Yale Hannon, Everly can be a real blast at times in the Tarantino tradition. The only real problem that held this back for me was that the film’s momentum stops dead, occasionally, for lengthy scenes of exposition, such as when Everly’s mom comes to the apartment where she is holed up and with her daughter. If the dialog was as snappy as Quentin Tarantino’s…whose films this seems to be modeled after…than it would be fine but, it’s not. The warm and fuzzy moments and her conversations with one of Taiko’s dying gang members (Akie Kotabe) just serve to slow the momentum down before the next gunfight. We do need a breather now and then but, the slowing down of the pace does more harm than good. There is still so much to like, though, as when this movie is on, it rocks. The action is fierce and I liked that the film took place all in the same apartment, so, you were familiar with the surroundings and where things were happening during the furious gunfights. As Taiko’s men fail to take down Everly, the assassins he sends get more colorful…with characters called “The Masochist” and “The Sadist”…and he even places a bounty on her head so she is also attacked by bevy of her fellow prostitutes. It all adds up to a lot of bloody…and this flick gets bloody…fun as Hayek blasts, slashes and blows away her opponents with anything she can get her hands on. In this case, the good parts go far in making up for any flaws or familiarities the film may have. It’s an over-the-top comic book-style action flick and despite a few slow spots, it succeeds in what it sets out to do.
Two words…Salma Hayek. The actress is an absolute stick of dynamite here and her kick-ass performance goes a long way in making this action flick really take off. Aside from being a resourceful, gutsy, bad-guy smashing heroine, she still looks great and at almost 50, has a body that shames girls half her age. She is an ass-kicking machine here but, never loses her humanity or makes us forget she’s just a woman who is trying to protect those she loves, even if it means taking on the world and possibly losing her own life. In support, Laura Cepeda plays a good strong Latino mom as Everly’s mother Edith. Aisha Ayamah is adorable as her little girl Maisey. Masashi Fujimoto and Togo Igawa are effectively disturbing as Masochist and Sadist respectively and Watanabe is serviceable as Taiko though I felt he could have used a bit more presence/menace considering how ominously he’s spoken of.
I enjoyed and recommend this flick for those that like the Tarantino style of over-the-top action and eccentric characters and goings-on. The pacing was a bit uneven and the film’s momentum sometimes gets slowed down considerably by some of the dialog sequences but, does provide plenty of furious action. The film is a real blast when that action comes and there is an absolutely volcanic performance by leading lady Salam Hayek who can stand her ground with any action star today. Flawed but, still lots of fun.