Best thing you’ll see all week: Everly

, | Movie reviews

Everly begins in the moments immediately following a rape, which might lead you to think you’re in for a revengesploitation movie. Not quite. Partly, but not quite. It’s certainly superviolent, and there’s a lot of lovely grindhouse in the proceedings. But this is no simple chicks vs. dicks polemic. It’s an almost-comedy of cartoon violence proportion, in which other women are also bad guys and victims, in which Salma Hayek’s cleavage should get equal billing, in which there will be “a lotta dead whores”. It’s not female empowerment. It’s victim empowerment, in which the victim happens to be a woman, a mother, and a daughter, all significant factors, none more central than the other. Writer Yale Hannon, whose credits include the TV shows Parenthood, Big Love, and In Treatment, deserves a lot of credit for elevating what could have been a forgettable action movie or a facile rape revengesploitation session.

Director Joe Lynch swatted clumsily at low-hanging fruit in the putative comedy, Knights of Badassdom. But in Everly, he’s on surer footing with what is essentially a parlor room drama in which the parlor room is going to get trashed. By unfolding in real time, in one location, with a rogues’ gallery of visitors, Everly is like Quentin Tarantino’s take on Rope. But it’s a crazily multinational melange, filmed in Serbia, with a largely Japanese cast, set in an indeterminate American city, and with Hayek’s accent unchecked. Everly is everywhere and nowhere.

It’s been 20 years since Hayek writhed into American cinema in From Dusk till Dawn. She wears those years proudly in Everly, a movie uninterested in immaculate youth. Older action heroes are normally the domain of men (one of my favorite exceptions is Janet McTeer in the otherwise unremarkable Cat Run), but Everly doesn’t need its heroine to be young, or to have superhero fighting abilities, or slick gun skills, or snappy one-liners. Everly is about someone who’s been rode hard and hung up wet within reach of a shotgun she doesn’t know how to use, but she’s desperate enough to give it a try. In fact, a lot of the charm in Everly is its almost videogame conceit whereby the more dead bodies populate an area, the bigger the available arsenal. And the boss monsters in this movie! Hoo, boy!

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