Salma Hayek plays the eponymous protagonist, who we’re introduced to moments after she’s been sexually violated. She’s naked, vulnerable and petrified, hiding in the bathroom of an apartment full of barbaric criminals. Having been a prisoner long enough, she decides enough is enough and so sets off on a rampage to kill each and every one of the savage perpetrators. Though her primary objective is to ensure that her mother and young, estranged daughter are kept safe.
The opening scene sets the tone for what is an unrelenting, unashamedly violent endeavour, as we’re thrust into this world without any idea what’s going on. The lack of context is not detrimental either, as it puts us in this perilous situation and we embody the lead, frantic and scared, desperate to find a way out to survive. Narrative wise, Joe Lynch’s picture is somewhat light, bearing similarities to The Raid, in that it’s all set in one apartment block, and is effectively one person against a whole army of antagonists. However The Raid has become a cult hit because it doesn’t shamelessly aim for such a status, not to mention the compelling choreography, with expert fighting skills on show. In Everly, however, it’s mainly just monotonous shoot-outs that make up much of the battle sequences.
Hayek is brilliant in the lead role however, and it’s always refreshing to see a female lead in an action movie of this ilk. Lynch seems almost intent on subverting the genre and yet he contradicts himself, as in the opening scene Hayek is completely naked, and from thereon she is persistently sexualised, with the camera voyeuristically studying her from the viewpoint of the male gaze, defeating the point somewhat.
Though entertaining in parts, it’s perhaps not quite enough to deem the bad acting and terrible screenplay excusable, instead making it something of a glaring issue. It’s also odd that the picture is set for a summer release, given festive numbers make up the majority of this soundtrack, implemented in harrowing situations to comically ridicule the Christmas genre. So to not promote this within that market – of the Bad Santa variety – detracts from that element. Even more of a shame because had this picture been labelled a “Christmas movie” it may have garnered more amused punters, and gone some way in attaining that cult status it just happens to be striving for.