Here’s how I imagine the pitching session for Everly going:
“Hey. So, what would the film be like if Die Hard was led by a Woman, and the people trying to kill her had previously enslaved her and forced her into prostitution?”
“Uh, probably lots of fun.”
“So, can we make this movie?”
And then Everly got made. Taking place solely in an apartment building — and on Christmas, no less! — the film follows Everly (Salma Hayek) as she defends her home from a bunch of hitmen, cops, and Yakuza.
No, really. That’s the entire movie. She spends 90 minutes fighting off a succession of bad guys. Her estranged mother (Laura Cepeda) and daughter (Aisha Ayamah) — yes, this movie does the whole “fractured family” thing, too — eventually become endangered, and we slowly find out exactly what got Everly into this situation. But, mostly, it’s a bloody and violent movie in which Salma Hayek gets to shoot a whole bunch of people who want her dead. Some of them are more interesting than others — a man named the Sadist (Togo Igawa) is more fun than generic SWAT members, but they’re all going to try to kill Everly over the course of the film.
Is there much more to it than that? Not really. One of the men who initially tries to kill her survives her retaliation, and he’s kept alive for most of the film. There are a couple of funny sequences in which Everly has to do “normal” things even in spite of the constant danger that she’s in. But, mostly, it’s just Everly vs. the world in a “who can kill whom first” fight where “the world” is represented by all sorts of unsavory people.
If you’re a fan of semi-serious action movies, this is one you’re going to like. Despite not having a grindhouse aesthetic — it’s a slick-looking movie — it reminded me of the likes of Machete and Planet Terror. It’s over-the-top and silly, and also incredibly violent and contains some pretty solid action. Of course, the obvious parallel is one I already mentioned, which is Die Hard, as the general setup is more or less just Die Hard but with Salma Hayek in the role of John McClane, and also she’s much better prepared for the situation than he was.
Now, Everly isn’t as good as Die Hard, so don’t you worry about having replacing Die Hard on your annual “non-traditional Christmas movies we have to mention because it’s edgy” list, although I think Everly might make a good double-feature with its inspiration. Both films do take place on Christmas, after all, so you can call them “Christmas movies.” In fact, with its frequent ironic use of Christmas songs, one could make the argument that this is more of a “Christmas movie” than Die Hard is. Everly is bloodier and sillier, and in all honesty being “Die Hard with a woman” makes it worth talking about all on its own.
Salma Hayek is made to be a compelling and believable action heroine in Everly. Part of the reason is because of how committed Hayek is to the role. It’s a physically demanding role, and she’s dives in headfirst into all the violence, and then also has to portray genuine emotions on top of that. She pulls it off, which is all sorts of awesome. She’s the only actor worth watching in the movie, but she’s so good that even in the non-action scenes — of which there are very few — Everly remains good.
I’m not here to tell you that Everly is a must-watch movie, but if you’re looking for a female-led Die Hard — I don’t think there was one before this — that takes a gleeful approach to violence, then it might be worth seeing. Salma Hayek handles the action like a veteran, keeping the emotion and intensity high throughout, and the over-the-top gore and silly characters keeps things fresh. Everly is a lot of fun from start to finish, and if you like violent action movies set in a single location, you’ll be right at home watching it.