Everly – Review

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There is no denying how gloriously entertaining, and violently unrelenting Joe Lynch’s Everly proves to be – but it’s persistently undermined by a contrived inclination to reach for cult status. This is not something that can be vied for, but must come naturally – and while this self-conscious endeavour is playful and compelling, the stylistic approach is implemented in an unnatural way, with certain sequences included merely because they look cool, without any narrative implications.

Salma Hayek is our titular protagonist, who has just been sexually abused, and she’s left naked and vulnerable, stowed away in the bathroom of an apartment, otherwise full of savage criminals. Having been a prisoner, she opts for the nothing to lose approach, and so decides to fight her way out to freedom; setting off on a violent rampage, to seek vengeance on all of her barbaric perpetrators. Her primary objective, however, is that both her mother and young daughter are left way out of it.

There’s a distinct lack of context to the piece, but it isn’t at all detrimental to the audience’s enjoyment, as we are placed in this situation, feeling disorientated, scared and desperate – effectively embodying our protagonist in the process. Hayek makes for an empathetic lead, but is also easy to invest in from an action perspective too, being a domineering hero: as we put our faith in her ability to survive. While there are many positives that derive from having a female lead in a film of this ilk – mostly that it’s a breath of fresh air – Lynch has undermined his own subversion of the genre by having the camera voyeuristically linger over his lead, staring at Everly from the perspective of the male gaze and sexualising her throughout – which is something you don’t get quite so much where male protagonists are concerned.

Recommended:  Civil War Review

There are certain comparisons to made between this title and The Raid, given they are set mostly in real-time and all in just one high-rise building – but any such comparisons end abruptly there, as this is without the captivating choreographed sequences, instead featuring a host of monotonous shoot-outs. It’s a shame this picture doesn’t adhere more to the festive spirit on show – as while evidently a narrative you would never attribute to the Christmas movie sub-genre, the use of festive songs would suggest otherwise. However with a summer release we’ve evidently deviated away from such a notion, which is baffling, because had this been a dark, subversive Christmas movie, it would have given the filmmaker more chance of gaining that cult status he’s so evidently going for.

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About Stefan Pape

Stefan Pape is a film critic and interviewer who spends most of his time in dark rooms, sipping on filter coffee and becoming perilously embroiled in the lives of others. He adores the work of Billy Wilder and Woody Allen, and won’t have a bad word said against Paul Giamatti.

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