Apartment Hunting, by Rudie Obias
Setting a movie in a single location takes a lot of confidence from its cast and crew. The movie has to be interesting enough to keep its characters in one location, such as Rope or Reservoir Dogs, while engaging enough for the audience so it doesn’t get boring or repetitive, such as Buried or Cube. In director Joe Lynch’s new film Everly, the one location premise seems more like a limitation than a strength.
Everly opens with the film’s titular character, played by Selma Hayek, panicked and trapped in a bathroom trying to search for a gun or a way out. We hear a loud and abrupt knock on the door and a voice on the other side angrily demanding her to come out. We have no idea who she is or what these people want from her but it goes to the brand of storytelling Lynch subscribes to where he gives the audience the same sense of confusion as his characters. When Everly finally emerges from the bathroom with a gun, she proceeds to shoot everyone in her apartment. While it seems that she’s a novice with a handgun, Everly does a good job killing almost everyone in the room. Before one of the nameless bad guys dies, he gets off one shot at Everly, and it wounds her in the side of her body.
We soon realize that Everly is a sex slave. The Yakuza kidnapped her five years ago and forced her into sex slavery while the criminal overlord Taiko, played by Hiroyuki Watanabe, put out a hit on Everly because she went to the police for help. Now that she knows she’s going to die tonight, she tries to do everything in her power to give her mother and daughter thousands of dollars to escape to a better life.
The film Everly works as small set pieces strung together to make one long action scene, but the problem comes from Lynch’s inability to make any of the film’s structure exciting or thrilling. Instead, it seems that he’s more content to deliver an action movie that rests on blood and gore, and uninteresting fight choreography and staging. The character Everly is not an action star in the strictest sense. She’s an everyday woman caught in a really intense situation. While I don’t have a problem with Everly’s lack of fighting chops (it certainly worked for John McClane in Die Hard), I have a problem with the film’s direction and writing because its characters are just dumb and seem to only do things because they’re written in the script.
Here’s an example: like I mentioned, Everly is wounded from a gun shot to her side. While the shot wasn’t fatal, she never acts as if it has any bearing on her actions or decisions. It’s not a plot point either, like one of her weaknesses, and seems to only be included in the film to give the audience a sense that the film’s main character could die at any time. Now I understand that her adrenaline could be pumping to distract her from the pain, but it’s hardly addressed in the entire film. Instead, Everly continues to fight off droves of deadly hitmen and prostitutes.
While Everly kills almost everyone in her apartment at the beginning of the film, one member of the Japanese crime syndicate survives, but only to provide her with vital information about Taiko, the apartment building, and the crime organization. It just seems like this character survives to not only tell Everly what’s going on but the audience too. He conveniently dies after he gives her this information. And that’s how a majority of Everly plays out, as a series of uninteresting, yet bizarre, action set pieces and situations. Lynch does nothing to make the one location dynamic or compelling; it seems that he’s more interested in cartoonish movie violence, which is exhausting and surprisingly tedious. The movie lacks confidence in setting its story in one location and instead of filling the frame with decent action scenes, a parade of wacky cartoon characters walk through Everly’s front door. For a movie about a badass woman, it sure is timid.