Steven Seagal is not a good actor. We know, he knows it. However, that doesn't matter given the right material. Look at "Under Siege," Seagal's golden film. He wasn't any better than he is now, but the movie itself was better. If Seagal ever wants to make a real comeback, he needs to get in more films like "Under Siege," and not ones like "Half Past Dead," a film half past downright terrible.
The movie gets its name from the fact that the main character (Seagal) flat-lines for twenty minutes in the beginning of the movie after being shot. Other than that, the title has nothing to do with anything, and sadly, they didn't show Seagal lying there for twenty minutes, because that would have been more entertaining than the crap titled "Half Past Dead."
Seagal stars as a convict who has been placed in the New Alcatraz prison in San Francisco, along with his friend Ja Rule, who plays a car thief. At the same time, a bank robber is being executed (since when do bank robbers get executed, by the way?) in the prison, and it appears as though his big secret - the whereabouts of $200 million worth of federal gold bricks - is going to go with him to his grave. However, a bunch of terrorists decide to take over the prison so they can force the money's whereabouts from the prisoner, so it is up to Seagal to save the day. You see, Seagal is actually an undercover FBI Agent. His true nature isn't revealed until halfway through the movie, but we knew all along; of course, director and screenwriter Don Michael Paul thought that he was being clever with his wonderful script.
I think there is a big problem with action directors who create movies off of their own scripts. Yes, there are plenty of people that write their own movies and direct them, too, but there are plenty more that just screw it up big time. With exception to the studio executives, who are clearly no help in filtering out terrible movies, there is no middle man to criticize the other's process. The director won't look at his own script and say, "This sounds cheesy," because he knows what he wants the scene to look like in his head. The result of a bad director creating a film based on his own bad screenplay is a very bad action movie called "Half Past Dead."
Really, the movie makes little sense. In the beginning, Ja Rule is surrounded by FBI Agents, all with their guns aimed at him. He starts firing wildly, and the only one that is shot in the whole ordeal by the FBI is Seagal. I honestly thought that the federal government trained its agents in aiming; I honestly believe that I could shoot someone who was standing wide out in the open only twenty feet away. How all those FBI Agents missed is beyond me...
The movie is full of stupid stuff like this. When Seagal is first admitted to prison, he quickly proceeds to get into a fight with one of the guards. Does this make sense? No. Furthermore, the prison is led by a stylish, rather kind warden who treats his prisoners with the utmost respect. The prison is almost realistic (note sarcasm) and the warden starts off every sentence with a Spanish saying, and then repeats it in English. I don't care whether he was speaking another language or not; normal people just do not repeat every sentence twice.
To cap things off, the action is just terrible. Seagal barely gets a chance to do much damage, and the rest is left up to Ja Rule and others shooting their way through scenes, without much sense or logic applied to anything. I can't even remember how the movie ends, and I watched it last night.
"Half Past Dead" is truly a very poor rip-off of "The Rock." It has a similar but dumb-downed plot, dumb-downed actors, and action scenes that Jerry Bruckheimer could have done when he was five years old. The title is a big lie. It's not "Half." It's wholly dead.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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