‘Everly’ Review: Die Hard with a Residence
The odds are exceptionally good that you’re in a room right now. If so, look around you. Where are the exits? What’s the most vulnerable point of attack? What are the three deadliest weapons at your disposal, real or improvised? And are you Salma Hayek? Because if so, this shit’s about to get intense.
Joe Lynch’s new action thriller Everly takes “Die Hard in a Room,” runs with it, and gets pretty damned far considering that it’s still just stuck in a room. Salma Hayek plays the title character, a woman who has been enslaved in a rather posh apartment for five years by a criminal kingpin. Shortly after she starts conspiring with a detective to escape via Witness Protection, her captor catches wind of her plan and decides to have her killed.
In most films, that would just be the start of the adventure – killing the first wave of assassins, escaping the apartment and going on the lam – but in Everly, our heroine can never leave. Destiny has other plans. The prostitutes who work in the apartments next door are offered a reward for her head on a platter. The cops are all on the take. Killer dogs and supervillains straight out of a Takashi Miike film are on the way. It’s going to be a ridiculous, and ridiculously long night.
Ridiculously fun, too. Everly is yet more evidence, as if we needed any, that restrictions can make storytellers more inventive. Joe Lynch had already proved his wily streak with the cleverly conceived Knights of Badassdom, but here he demonstrates a remarkable talent for making the most out of very, very little. He knows when to slow the action down. He knows when to change the shooting style to keep the action unpredictable. He knows how to establish the geography early on and change it over time, so that just one apartment can successfully become any locale he needs to get away with a forcefully, but memorably contrived concept.
But although it’s Lynch who keeps the pacing tight, it’s Salma Hayek who runs this show. When we first meet Everly she’s oozing with terror, only surviving by dumb luck and survival instinct. Then we watch her gradually, believably transform into a woman who will do whatever she must to make it through this evening alive. She’s clever but not a strategic mastermind, making mistakes and then correcting them with adrenaline-driven inspiration. She’s a tough individual but she never turns into a robot, feeling every overwhelming emotion and letting them motivate her next course of action, be it slipping through the shadows, lobbing hand grenades down the hallway or staring down the devil himself.
Despite the obvious tagline, Everly isn’t so much a Die Hard knockoff as it is a siege thriller in Die Hard’s clothing, plus sexy shoes. But whatever you want to call it, whatever movies it pays homage to (I think I even caught a Cat’s Eye reference, and how weird is that?), it is always distinctly effective. It’s a full throttle action extravaganza that knows how to grab you, and how to shake you around once you’re in its capable mitts. Everly might not amount to much in the grand scheme of things, but while you’re watching it, it is fucking awesome.