Joe Lynch has always been a fan first and a filmmaker second, which is why he’s such a popular figure among us genre nerds. He’s one of us, and he makes movies that cater to our tastes because he shares them. His latest effort Everly is a claustrophobic action thriller which doesn’t offer much in terms of uniqueness; but what it lacks in originality it makes up for in fun, violence and Salma Hayek’s cleavage.
Everly, in name and titular character, stars Salma Hayek as a prostitute holed up in an apartment after agreeing to co-operate with the authorities. Unhappy with her betrayal, her old pimp puts a bounty on her head, which sends many cartoonish assailants her way. Convinced that death is inevitable, Everly must survive long enough to get money to her mother and daughter before her time is up.
Everly takes place in an apartment during the course of one night. Christmas Eve to be exact. Right away, Die Hard springs to mind; and rightly so because it wears the influence of the 1988 classic on its sleeve, along with John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) and Takeshi Miike’s Ichi The Killer (2001). Joe Lynch himself has admitted that it’s his love letter to such movies; thus making it a dream come true for a guy who grew up wanting to emulate his heroes.
Homages aside, Everly, is more than just a potion of favourite films concocted in the cauldron of a fanboy wizard; with innovative action sequences and an awkward action heroine who adds emotional depth to a character that could have worked as a generic bad ass, Everly manages to carve its own niche in action cinema.
The villains of the film comprise mostly of gangsters and prostitutes, but it’s a man named Sadist and his goon, The Masochist, who leave an impression. When they show up, Everly takes a diversion into the realms of Takashi Miike inspired torture porn: it’s an unexpected shift in tone and makes for an unsettling few minutes, showing that Joe Lynch isn’t prepared to abandon his horror sensibilities quite yet.
Everly takes place in one room for its entirety, only leaving to stray into the corridor for a couple of scenes. To avoid staleness, Lynch provides us with a wide array of colourful characters, differing action scenes and various camera shots to ensure nothing is ever repeated.
Salma Hayek is as excellent as ever, bringing emotional depth to a character who could have been one dimensional and still delivered. The core theme of Everly is a mother fighting for a better life for her family, and that’s what gives it an emotional centre amidst the guns, swords, assailants and chaos.
Everly is the first true Joe Lynch movie: Wrong Turn 2 (2007) and Knights of Badassdom (2013) were director-for-hire jobs full of enthusiasm, but this is the first film he can call his baby. Co-written with Yale Hannon, Lynch has finally made a full feature that’s completely his, and it’s a winner. Everly is a film with a simple premise which delivers everything a good R rated action movie requires. If you want a gun toting bad ass who’s easier on the eyes than John McClane, then Everly could be your new Christmas action heroine. 8/10
Yale Hannon & Joe Lynch