Everly is like a great mash-up trailer extended to insufferable full length. There are plenty of fun ideas swirling around, but none of them move past the conceptual stage. What results is a film that throws these disparate base concepts into a blender and hurls them at the audience, in chunks measured enough to eventually reach a 90-minute running time, with an uneasy mix of humorous pulp and embarrassingly serious storytelling.
The director, Joe Lynch, has referred to the film as “a cross between Die Hard and Lars von Trier.” Since Lynch is a veteran of B-grade horror and pulp comedy, I suppose this is his next natural step, a bit of ambition layered atop his usual milieu. Except Everly is less Die Hard and more Death Proof, though with little style and even less fun. Lynch’s concept, however ambitious, brings the hammer to what could have been a simple jolt of light, breezy fun – especially with Salma Hayek front and center in a kick-ass role. With Hayek exhibiting natural physicality and flaunting inherent sass, this could’ve been a slam-bang, blood-soaked bit of fun (thoroughly derivative of Tarantino, but there are certainly worse sins). As it stands, any of Hayek’s charisma is blunted by the film treating her as a damsel who happens to shoot guns, and this story is such a brutal moment-of-truth saga that it barely sustains interest past the 15-minute mark.
Hayek plays the title character, who as the film opens is beaten and blood-stained, the apparent victim of an onslaught of all manner of violence by the non-descript members of a sinister cartel. We come to learn this cartel is run by Everly’s ex (his name isn’t Bill), and the film consists of our heroine fighting her way through a series of henchmen (and henchwomen) within the confines of her apartment, a spatial confinement from which creativity might’ve sprung, if Yale Hannon’s screenplay wasn’t so driven to narrative dullness.
A handful of sequences work as pulp entertainment, if for no other reason than it’s fun to watch choreographed fights among deliberately outsized caricatures. But those are few and far between, and the lengthy stretches of limp exposition that fill the voids are deadly. Everly’s long-lost daughter becomes a part of the equation (because of course there’s a daughter), but then swiftly evaporates without payoff or consequence. There is a darkly comic would-be joke involving one of Everly’s victims, who sits dying for an inordinately long time while spouting various flimsy platitudes, but then that otherwise clever narrative non sequitur resolves itself far too seriously.
Essentially, that is a miniature of version of the issue plaguing the entire film (that, and its back-and-forth creeper gaze on Hayek as an object). It’s a lark that then becomes gravely serious, but there’s not enough substantive narrative content to enforce such a tonal shift. Everly is just a mopey soap opera with guns and blood.