Directed by: Joe Lynch
I vaguely remember this coming out this past year. I remember I'd read about it a few times in a few articles or sites, but I don't recall ever seeing a trailer or even a review. So I forgot about it. But about a week ago someone had made a comment about this film on a random Facebook post, saying that they loved it and it was a lot of fun. Since that was the one and only "word of mouth" I'd ever come across, I figured I'd give it a shot. When Redbox recently offered it, I jumped on it.
I knew nothing about this film going in, other than it starred Salma Hayek, and was directed by Joe Lynch. While I'm not entirely familiar with his output, I did see his first film, Wrong Turn 2, and loved it. So the prospect of someone who started out in horror coming to the action genre was exciting to me. It happens a lot, with action directors like Renny Harlin, John McTiernan and Stephen Hopkins all having started out in the horror genre before making it big in Hollywood with action films. It seems to be an almost natural transition, and having fallen in love with Wrong Turn 2 and it's impressive effects work, the idea of Lynch venturing into action almost seemed natural.
Holed up in a penthouse apartment as she fights off the Japanese mafia, Evelyn (Hayek) must find a way out to save her 5 year old daughter using anything she can.
So much of this film is just spot-on, working effectively well as a balls-to-the-walls action film with an insane amount of over-the-top action and hardcore violence, yet surprisingly tense at the same time, with genuine moments of suspense. It's also slightly tongue-in-cheek, releasing some of it's hard-edge tone with some random moments of humor that also work effectively well at keeping the film from being 100% hard. The violence on display here is nothing short of awesome. What I liked most in terms of the violence was that most of it was done with practical effects. You won't see any CGI blood splatter, or CGI gunshot wounds, and believe me, there is a LOT of blood spilled in this film. When CGI was implored, it was done on an extremely minimal level, integrated into an existing shot and you'll more than likely not even notice it.
Joe Lynch is a revelation here. Going in, and knowing how he shot Wrong Turn 2, I expected the same visual aesthetic, imploring a lot of handheld freestyle camerawork with a kinetic approach. But here, he takes a much more streamlined approach, and it's gorgeous. I can't remember a single handheld shot, sticking entirely with tracking and stable shots. The visuals here are just stunning, imploring some creative camerawork that you'd come to expect from a seasoned pro, and not someone with only 2 other films under his belt, and none of them in the action genre. Though an entirely different aesthetic than Desperado, I found this film to have a lot in common with Robert Rodriguez's first big budget film in that it was clever, creative, nonstop fun, and shot with passion.
Despite it's seemingly neverending barrage of all-out voilence, Everly took many detours into places I was not expecting, such as the Japanese Mafia angle, and a character who shows up in the last act known as The Sadist. I almost feel like they could have made an entire film out of his character alone. But these are things that only add to it's unpredictability, something sorely missing from action films these days.
I wish films like this got more attention. In this day and age where action films seem to cater to the older crowd by casting Liam Neeson, or only marginally dip into the action genre by giving us cookie-cuter thrills in an age filled with remakes, reboots and re-imaginings, it's refreshing to see something with balls, and rated a Hard R.
Within the past few days, I've seen 2 films that have shown me everything right (Everly), and everything wrong (Expendables 3) with the action genre today. Everly gets everything right, and not only pushes it further, but kicks your ass in the process.