Grimy and bloody, this character motivated action thriller is slim on plot pickings and only stays watchable because of the charisma in Salma Hayek and certain fine moments of style within the main frame of the movie.
Everly (Salma Hayek); a prostitute working for criminal nasty Taiko (Hiroyuki Watanabe) finds herself holed up in her apartment after a misery of sex and torture. Trying to escape to see her mother and daughter, Everly finds her route out of the building a tough ask as all forces come to try and kill her and take the hit money hanging over her head.
In some ways, perhaps a skewed version of what I hoped it could be, this movie appears in style and simplicity like ‘The Raid.’ Of course, not anywhere as near as fun or stylish but it has leaps of flair from time to time and the basic plot structure is reminiscent of Rama’s journey through dull battle torn buildings. This film however does seem even more stripped of interest and therefore the story becomes thin and the bloody nature of the action surfaces in a more exploitative way than necessary.
Joe Lynch does a neat thing with his direction, the shadows and explosive aftermath of Everly’s deteriorating home are seen in cool frames or lighting and even some snappy Edgar Wright like edits come to fruition for Lynch’s vision of making the movie more pacy and blood pumping. The end starts weakening but on the whole he’s a director that knows how to shoot these kind of all out barmy yet simple action fests. Oh and also, check out his Venom/Brock short called ‘Truth in Journalism’, I saw it a couple of years ago and it’s marvellous.
The entire film seems to squander excitement by getting stuck in one place. At first I liked the idea of it being centered on the entrapping nature of Everly’s predicament but by the end, the apartment is a place you’d never hope to see again and utterly get sick of. At least ‘The Raid’ has movement and ‘Rope’ has the one shot take wonder going for them, this feature doesn’t fall back on any cool tricks.
Yale Hannon’s screenplay is gimmicky, with arguing call girls, shady Asians and a feisty capable strong woman somehow knowing how to combat even the SWAT team drag this film quite very nearly into the swirling abyss. There isn’t much great dialogue to listen to, for an action film of this calibre you want action but it’d be nice to have some believable character process to and all of Everly’s lines are pithy even with Hayek doing her best.
Salma Hayek is a brutal feminine warrior who won’t back down and she portrays this scared yet ready female with sheer conviction. I honestly think the film survives because of utilising on a dependent heroine. Hayek gives both emotion and gritty kick ass skills. I liked Akie Kotabe’s Dead Man, who for a small-ish role is actually interestingly nice for the story and stands out. Watanabe doesn’t really power through, appearing for the final piece of the film as the big bad, he’s believably calm and violent but nothing outstanding for the evil menace manipulating Everly’s life until that point.
It doesn’t feel brutally silly just brutal and in that this movie becomes a bloody mess of something you keep watching but don’t want to see again. It has a few peaks of directing style and enigmatic fierceness in Hayek but they’re two points that don’t save it from feeling VHS nasty.