Writer: Yale Hannon (screenplay and story), Joe Lynch (story)
Cast: Salma Hayek, Hiroyuki Watanabe, Akie Kotabe, Laura Cepeda
Running Time: 92 mins
The lowdown: Furiously hot sexpot Salma Hayek is the titular heroine out for revenge in what should be a blood-soaked blast. Instead, a witless script and a cockamamie plot create a careless mess with lethargic logic and monotonous monologues. Gorehounds may lap up the copious claret on offer but anyone hoping for style or substance should look elsewhere.
The full verdict: Setting an action film almost entirely in one location, due to script or budgetary restrictions requires imagination and invention. Recent successes The Raid and Dredd and classics like Assault on Precinct 13 managed to create carnage in a claustrophobic setting without feeling stale or static.
Confining the chaos to one floor of an apartment block, this cartoonish offering from director/writer Joe Lynch (Wrong Turn 2: Dead End, Knights of Badassdom) rapidly becomes repetitive as it runs out of space and ideas.
An abrupt opening sees a naked and traumatised Everly (Hayek) cowering in the bathroom. She’s been gang raped and brutally beaten in revenge for betraying her captor, T.S Eliot quoting Yakuza boss Taiko (Watanabe).
One call to her mystified mother (Cepeda) later and she’s gun-toting totty, seeking justice for years spent imprisoned in a building populated exclusively by jealous prostitutes and one senile senior citizen.
Since Lynch baulks at showing the assault, or Everly’s years of incarceration, this backstory is relayed via painfully detailed exposition; delivered over the phone or, in one excruciating moment, aloud to the empty room.
It’s Kill Bill reimagined as a drawing room farce, with Everly’s apartment invaded by a parade of increasingly outlandish assailants, most of whom barely clear the door frame before they’re blown to bits.
No plausible explanation is proffered for her firearm smarts (“Dad wanted a boy”) or why she apparently has unlimited access to Taiko’s hidden arsenal. Lynch and debut screenwriter Hannon’s moronic plot is riddled with more holes than Everly’s unwanted visitors. Occasionally the camera even forgets which floor the apartment’s located.
Squeezing her celebrated curves into various snug ensembles, Salma smoulders but struggles in vain against a script portraying her as a hand-wringing wreck one minute and a Sai-wielding avenger the next.
It’s hard to root for a heroine who changes her mindset as often as her outfits. Everly coolly dispatches the building’s wanton occupants in an explosion of leopard skin and latex, mourns their loss, then dryly dismisses them as “dead whores”. Her exchanges with estranged daughter Maisey wallow in sentiment.
Sweet-faced, small screen stalwart, Akie Kotabe elicits more sympathy as a wounded mob employee, dishing out deadpan advice while trying to keep his innards inward.
Lynch attempts to address this issue with the late arrival of acid aficionado, ‘The Sadist’ (complete with slavering masochistic sidekick) whose job is to torture Everly until we feel something. This lengthy sequence lazily apes Takashi Miike and the arduous descriptions of his face-fizzling methods dilute the dread.
Big boss Taiko’s showdown with the seething senorita is also packed with so much posturing and pontificating you may wonder if his strategy is to talk her into terminal dreamland.
That’s not to imply Lynch stints on the gory details – there’s plenty of vomit and viscera to sate the strong of stomach but nothing eye-popping or jaw-dropping we haven’t already seen in superior splatterfests.
Lynch may have to look to the small screen to find his target audience but should this shambles spawn a sequel, he may need to acknowledge fans of blood and guts sometimes appreciate brains too.