The unlikely duo of DMX and David Arquette star in Never Die Alone, an interesting film that never really excites but surprisingly doesn't disappoint, either.
I had little expectations for this film, as it stars DMX. I have never been a big fan of rapper-turned-actors, as they tend to just play sleazy characters that uphold their image but contribute nothing to the acting world. To no surprise, DMX plays a rather screwed-up individual by the name of King David, a man that knows he has made mistakes but seems to be unwilling or unable to snap out of the violent cycle he lives in.
Never Die Alone actually tells three different stories, as noted by a person on IMDB.com. One is that of King David, as, through a series of flashbacks, he reflects on his life and all of the horrible things he has done. While his words indicate some remorse, the actions scene on screen indicate quite the opposite, as he manages to keep women around by getting them addicted to heroine and, when he has had enough of them, puts battery acid in their drugs to kill them. Cheerful, huh?
Two, the movie looks at David Arquette, who plays a reporter named Paul who becomes obsessed with the past of King David after he witnesses the man get murdered. Arquette's character has the potential to be interesting, but the movie chooses not to focus on him as much as it should. Instead, he plays out as nothing more than filler, a means to an end to fill the gap between the modern day story and the flashbacks that describe King David's rise and fall.
The third story, set in modern day, revolves around Michael, the killer of King David. Played by Michael Ealy, Michael finds himself the target of his own boss and goes on the run. He has an interesting connection to King David, which, through the flashbacks, is revealed near the end. This story is the most entertaining, as it actually plays upon a character who, though flawed, has the most reason to survive. Ealy plays his character well.
Overall, Never Die Alone is a well-done movie; the editing is superb, especially in regards to how it cuts between the different stories. That being said, the combination of the various stories never really works, as it seems more plausible to only tell one at a time. The revenge story could be its own movie; the reporter story could be its own movie; the King David back story could be its own movie. On their own they are all quite good, but together, they don't mesh as well as director Ernest Dickerson was hoping.
What hurts Never Die Alone the most, however, is that it looks like some kind of cheap cable movie. The editing is good, but the overall look and feel just doesn't seem like a theatrical production. Why was this movie ever released in theaters in the first place?
Those who like these gritty crime dramas may want to check it out, but Never Die Alone fails to deliver an effectively strong addition to the genre. It has its moments, but the synergy of the various stories isn't too satisfying.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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