Salma Hayek Is the New Liam Neeson in ‘Everly’

Salma Hayek is apparently going the Liam Neeson route with a new action movie that sees her seeking some bloody revenge. The 48-year-old actress plays a former Yakuza prostitute who informs on her employer and then has to survive having made that decision long enough to get her family the money they need to disappear for good in the upcoming movie Everly.

While Taken saw Neeson traveling across Europe to find his daughter and savagely murder the mobsters behind her kidnapping, in Everly Hayek is stuck inside her apartment as her former boss sends assassin after assassin to do her in. She takes them on, trapped there while waiting for her mother and her daughter to show up so they can all escape together.

Director Joe Lynch is known for his love of B-movies, and Everly pays homage to Japanese martial arts cinema and the Bruce Willis action classic Die Hard.

Hayek is an Oscar-nominated Mexican actress, but recently she’s been taking a bit of a break to focus on her marriage to French billionaire François-Henri Pinault as well as their daughter and her charity work with various organizations devoted to raising awareness on violence against women and discrimination against immigrants. She received that Oscar nomination for her heart-wrenching and ballsy portrayal of the Mexican artist and iconoclast Frida Kahlo in Frida back in 2002. Since then, the actress has taken more light-hearted roles and proven her chops as a comedienne in movies like Adam Sandler’s yuck-fest Grown Ups and a guest-spot on 30 Rock.

Should Everly prove successful, even on a cult level, it could be just what the actress needs to rebrand herself and revive her acting career. The trick worked for Liam Neeson, who in his middle age became a bona fide action star with Taken. That movie saw him famously starring as a former CIA agent with some “special skills” he uses to rescue his teenage daughter who gets kidnapped by human traffickers while on vacation in Europe.

Using only his knowledge from working for the CIA plus a brief phone conversation with the the girl and the kidnappers when the kidnapping happened at the swanky apartment she was staying at in Paris, Neeson’s character cracks skulls across the continent to rescue his daughter. The film has been cited as redefining the middle-aged actor’s career as an action star and he’s since starred in action movies including Non-Stop and A Walk Among the Tombstones as well as the Taken sequels, the third of which is set to come out in 2015. He was previously best known for his Oscar-nominated turn as Oskar Schindler in Schindler’s List.

More recently, Scarlett Johansson has gone a similar route with her role as the superhero Black Widow in the Marvel cinematic universe and this summer’s action hit Lucy. It seems likely the actress will continue to do the indie films that brought her to fame and that she seems to love, but she’s carving out a more popular and commercial niche for herself in action roles. Johansson is only 30 years old, but she could easily continue this route as she gets older.

Everly’s Asian cinema and B-movie leanings call to mind another movie starring a middle-aged actress that paid homage to the same type of movies, Quentin Tarantino’s two-part epic Kill Bill which revitalized Uma Thurman’s career at age 34. The role as the katana-wielding vengeful assassin the Bride brought her two Golden Globe nominations and a BAFTA nomination.

Clearly this formula has worked for multiple actors and could serve to turn Hayek back into a major movie star, rather than an actress who pops up in small roles and makes appearances at events.

Follow Jacqueline on Twitter @Jacqui_WSCS

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