Fantastic Fest 2014 Review: ‘Everly’

Everly Salma Hayek

You always hope a movie can feel bigger than it actually is because of the creative ideas it exercises. Plenty of movies blatantly cheap out by containing a big idea in a small setting, like The Purge or many a lesser zombie outbreak movie. Everly is one of the good ones. It all takes place on one floor of an apartment building, but gives you the sense of a whole world of action.

Salma Hayek enters a bathroom naked with an impressive tattoo on her back and a gun. So begins her day of fending off assassins sent by her ex to take her out. They keep coming, she keeps trying to escape, and if we ever hear her name I didn’t catch it. Everly refers to someone else. 

Everly could be a spinoff in the world of Kill Bill. It feels lovingly irreverent towards assassin tropes. One hitman is even indignant about his competitor’s choice of weapons. The various assassins are colorful, and play with popular tropes like badass schoolgirls and men in suits. You get a sense that they represent a larger world that just happens to be converging around Hayek’s character. 

 

Related: Joe Lynch’s Inspirations for ‘Everly’ (Video)

 

How many different types of assassins could there be and how many different ways to thwart them? That’s the creativity of Everly. Writer/director Joe Lynch and cowriter Yale Hannon create elaborate variations on bullets, fists and explosions to keep Everly moving. They also occasionally gets us out of the apartment in clever ways. One sequence unfolds across a series of video screens, but they never cheat. The world of the film is this apartment, the one across the hall, and the hallway in between. And the elevator. A lot to do with the elevator. 

The action is not too choreographed, so it’s a little more rough and tumble than Yuen Woo-Ping. It’s all clear though. You can see the moves and understand how Hayek overpowered each attacker. There’s some clever one-upsmanship and a hand grenade gag I found hilarious. There’s also a juicy self-healing scene. Hayek doesn’t quite go First Blood but she makes good use of duct tape. 

Everly builds more to a dramatic confrontation than an action climax, but that’s okay. It totally delivers on the action so if it wants to resolve its storyline with drama, it’s satisfying. I don’t find it as egregious as, say, Kill Bill Vol. 2. Yeah, I said it.

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Fred Topel is a staff writer at CraveOnline and the man behind Best Episode Ever and The Shelf Space Awards. Follow him on Twitter at @FredTopel.