a critiQal film review Everly (2015)

  • DVD
  • Blu-Ray

Plot: Fighting back after four years as a Yakuza sex-slave, a woman (Hayek) matches wits and weaponry with a legion of killers who are out to collect the bounty on the heads of her and her family.

626 words (Est. Reading Time 3m 7s)

Salma Hayek has a fond place in our hearts thanks to her roles in films like Desperado (1995), From Dusk Till Dawn and Dogma. So, when a newer film of hers, Everly, showed up on Amazon Prime (which we just received for Christmas), we figured we’d give it a shot.

But, would Everly be something fresh from Salma? Or was there a reason it was released in theaters and on digital HD simultaneously?

Salma isn’t quite the same as the last time we saw her. This time, she’s playing a much grittier role, and comes off feeling a bit too polished. While she still manages to drag viewers along with her throughout the film, she doesn’t have quite the same appeal she used to exude in waves. Possibly it’s the wide-eyed expressions of confusion she showcases during the film. It throws the viewer off a bit, almost as if she’s in on the gag.

The film around her, Everly can’t seem to decide if it’s a Smokin’ Aces ripoff or a Kill Bill rip off, at least in the beginning. Unfortunately, while Smokin’ Aces seemed to be built to be a black comedy (hence why funnyman Ryan Reynolds was in the main role), the humor in Everly seems almost unintentional. Sure, the characters are over-the-top, the serious characters (which appear later in the film) are equally as ridiculous. What seemed like a joke in the beginning turns into just a typical character in Everly.

Having lagged a bit in the comedy section after a brief girl assassin shtick near the beginning, Everly switches tactics part of the way through the film, and goes for imitating Kill Bill instead, albeit with a lot less of Tarantino’s signature styling. While Kill Bill is an artist’s canvas with gore as a medium, Everly seems to be a sideshow attraction in comparison.

The film does exceed in one point: it manages to keep the viewer tuned in throughout. By devising crazier and crazier hopeless scenarios for our heroine, the film keeps viewers sticking around to see how she gets out of each dire situation she finds herself in. Of course, as the film continues, these situations get worse and worse. While each scenario is exciting, they seem an unrealistic progression of events, unless one happens to be playing a video game.

And sadly, that’s what Everly finally resembles. Sure, it’s a Smokin’ Aces ripoff and a Kill Bill ripoff. But, it’s video game feel, culminating in the inevitable fight against the big boss, is what keeps the viewer at a distance. One never quite believes any of the characters in the film, and so will keep their distance. With some over-the-top performances and the uncannily lucky heroine, viewers may spend most of the film trying to figure out which video game this was adapted from.

It’s too bad, really. If the filmmakers had stuck with the Smokin’ Aces ripoff (thus leaving out the sadist, among others), the film would have been a nice change of pace from so many other action flicks these days. As is, the film can’t quite decide if it’s a black comedy or a brutal gorefest. Since the film splits it’s efforts between the two, viewers don’t get the full benefits of either. That leaves them rather ho-hum about the film as a whole, which is a pity. Since we know Salma is better than this, and that the screenplay was noted as one of the best unmade films of 2010, that’s quite a disappointment.

Still, Everly is not all bad, and some of the humor in the first half is quirky enough to be entertaining (including a surprisingly fun performance from a gutshot bad guy). It’s just too bad it wasted so much of it’s potential.

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