Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Cool--in a gory/crazy/funny/action-heavy way! Ms Hayek stars in Joe Lynch's fabulous EVERLY

Looking for the kind of wild, bloody, all-stops-out, fun-and-fetish-filled action movie they just don't make anymore (maybe they never did)? If so, we've got a tip for you: EVERLY, the new action film from director Joe Lynch and screen-writer Yale Hannon. It's a hoot and a half, and it gives Salma Hayek the kind of super-heroine role that Scarlett Johansson could only manage with those special-effect sci-fi powers in Lucy or the Avengers movies. Of course Everly is not one bit believable. But in this kind of non-stop action film, do you really ask for truth?

Of course not. You just want a bloody good time and maybe some pulchritude tossed in for extra measure. Misters Lynch (at right) and Hannon provide the fun and frolic, while Ms Hayek (above and below), in a role that shows that the lady's still got what it takes, offers up the beauty and charisma. Theres' a lot of the last two on view.

The movie begins in the dark, so to speak, because all we see is a black screen as we hear what sounds like a woman being hurt, maybe tortured. Oh, gosh. Not to worry. Within moments, the screen lights up, we're looking down into a bathroom where a nude woman (our titular Everly), clearly hurt, appears, locks the door behind her, and....  Nope: I'm not telling. We do hear a gun shot, however, and from that point onward, for some 92 minutes, there is simply no let-up to the suspense, action and good, gory fun.

We're in the naughty land of nasty sex traffickers once again, this time with an Asian slant. Everly, it seems, has been commandeered, over some years now, to do the bidding of the head trafficker, but the lady has had, as they say, enough. However, head baddie knows the whereabouts of her mother and daughter, so soon we have three generations of women hiding out together in a very odd hotel.

The film was shot mostly, perhaps entirely, in Belgrade, Serbia -- which should be enough to scare the pants off you already. If not, the odd assortment of villains, all working for Mister Top Guy, certainly will. Our head man, whom, yes, we eventually do get to meet, seems to have a small army of thugs on tap to do his bidding.

So how do Hayek and crew manage to hold out so long? Through all kinds of shenanigans, Salma leads them ever onward, using her amazing knack for firearms and fighting to get through it all. There are some ups and down, and for awhile it seems our heroine is toast. But soon she's back to buttered bread -- bloody and battered as that tasty loaf soon becomes.

The most enticing and original of these villains is a quintet of sadist (the great Togo Igawa, from The Hedgehog), masochist and three large acolytes who go at our gal something fierce. The actress who plays Everly's daughter is one of the most beautiful little girls seen on film in ages (newcomer Aisha Ayama), while mom/grandma is played with comedic smarts by Laura Cepeda.

The sweetest of Ms Hayek's hits is delightfully performed by Akie Kotabe (above), who sticks around long enough to kibbitz and bleed, while Everly's chief nemesis is given quite a impressive performance by Hiroyuki Watanabe, two photos below, who proves as lean, lithe and sexy as he is dangerous.

Mr. Lynch has directed the film to within an inch of its life, and he's managed, though it stays completely within that one hotel setting, to make each minute easy to sit through. Everly, the movie, looks every bit as good as does Everly, the character, with sumptuous production design by Ondrej Nekvasil (Snowpiercer) and crack cinematography from Steve Gainer (Mysterious Skin).

There are also a flock of call girls on tap -- most of whom would be just as happy to see Everly breathe her last, and some of the fun provided is at the girls' expense. (This is not exactly what we would call a feminist tract.) But that's OK, too, because Hayek acts and actions her way through it all with real aplomb. If the film is a success -- and it certainly should be at least a minor one -- I could see a sequel or two soon in the works, perhaps next time with Latins, Blacks, Arabs or, gosh, maybe just a bunch of rich and uber-entitled bankers and Wall Street white guys playing the villains. Many of this set are no doubt already dick-deep in the sideline trade of sex trafficking.

Meanwhile, if you're a fan of this kind of thing, don't miss Everly, from Radius/TWC, which opens Friday, February 27, here and there around the country -- after its iTunes digital debut last month. (Here in NYC, it'll be opening at the Village East Cinema.) If you miss it in theaters, the film should be available on VOD and/or digital again soon, as well as on DVD and (I hope) Blu-ray, for this is one good-looking movie.

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