Everly film review

“Everly” feels like a direct response to the debacle that was the outcome of “Knights of Badassdom” after it was wrenched out of Joe Lynch’s hands and eviscerated. While I am still a fan of that film I acknowledged that something felt absent. “Everly” works as a stripped down energetic narrative, one firmly anchored in the Salma Hayek’s powerful and nuanced performance.

Joe Lynch, director and co-story writer, demonstrates great restraint in communicating the most terrible details of Everly’s tale through sound and intimation. The effect is still horrible. The precipitating event isn’t gratuitous either for Everly is a woman who has been kidnapped and forced into sexual servitude for four years. Spared the worst degradations though because she was favored by the gangleader who imprisoned her as his “girlfriend.” When she turns to the police he quickly turns on her and broadcasts a $50k contract on her that brings every nearby hooker and assassin forcing Everly to quickly adapt, find new strength, and learn new skills if she is going to make it through the night and meet up with her daughter. However, that is going to be difficult when she can’t even get out of her room without meeting a hail of gunfire.

Trapped by corrupt cops, suit clad-mafioso, sai wielding hookers, and even specialized assassins with their own themes. The film is hyper-violent with guns, grenades, swords, and vicious acids thrown around with brash aplomb. The sheer audacity of Lynch’s embrace of violence is enough to be celebrated, it is the growth of Everly herself that is the greater accomplishment.

In the hands of a lesser director this would have been just a sleazy tale of bullets and boobs. In Lynch’s hands it is a tale of release and redemption. It is the tale of a mother fighting for herself and her daughter. It is a powerful tale of woman seizing a moment and freeing herself when those she counted on are absent. In short, this is an amazing feminist tale. It is set in a world that unfortunately does exist, and while it doesn’t present a realistic solution it manages to position a strong woman in an action story. One who starts off in literally the MOST disempowered position one can find themselves in.

Watching Everly overcome each obstacle is, in a way, like playing through a video game; the low-level character starts off with a small level of skills and stats and after each encounter acquires new abilities and experience making her a more formidable foe. Unlike a videogame, however, she also receives new injuries and loses valuable cover forcing her to compensate for each. That is where the comparison of Everly, the character, to a videogame ends though for she easily felt like a grounded character and nothing that she did came out of nowhere.

She makes logical choices, struggles with the parameters, and does so with the knowledge that at any time everything she is fighting for can be taken away in a moment. She is not a superhero either, clearly vulnerable and well aware of this. Everly is intelligent and the film even manages to infuse some humor to break up the heavy material. The emotional toll is visibly evident as the film wears on and that only serves to make Everly more realistic as a character instead of making her a weaker one. Hayek and Lynch have a tonal grasp on the film and character and shows in every frame.

“Everly” clearly demonstrates what Joe Lynch can do when given control of his material. There has been a loud outcry for a director’s cut of “Knights of Badassdom” and I hope that the studio finally capitulates. Listening to some of the wretched tales about that film it is no wonder I felt some things were missing. If “Knights of Badassdom” was the cautionary tale and still somehow manages to be a decent film, then “Everly” should act as the warning tale to avoid micro-managing and messing with directors who know their stuff just because you (some studio dude) don’t like the dress the actress is wearing in the final scene.

“Everly” feels triumphant. Not just because of the narrative, but also for those who know Lynch’s tale. This film stands as an epic feminist triumph and shows that female centered action films can be entertaining, mesmerizing, contain a underlying message, and avoid being preachy. These are all things many of us know, yet Hollywood has yet to catch on to. The fact that “Everly,” made for a modest budget, starring a name star, hugely entertaining, never got a decent release is proof enough. A studio should have swooped in and tried to get this into theaters to garner some decent profits. I have utmost faith that “Everly” would have presented well in theaters. I can’t wait to see what Joe Lynch delivers next for “Everly” is a triumph.  

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