Never Die Alone

Reviewed By David Cornelius
Posted 02/25/05 16:00:41

1 stars (Sucks)

In order to be a hardcore rapper, one requirement is an unconditional love for Brian De Palma’s 1983 “Scarface.” It’s a movie so well-loved in the rap community that the recent special edition DVD includes a feature highlighting the film’s influence on rap. (The disc also hypes a companion CD, featuring new music “inspired by” the movie.)

I mention this because so many rappers-turned-actors are trying so desperately to make their own little “Scarface,” with the obligatory modern edge. The result is usually a mess of a film that’s an untidy blend of the De Palma flick and either “GoodFellas” or “New Jack City,” two other major rap favorites. (No one dare copy “The Godfather,” however.) “Never Die Alone,” starring bland rapper-turned-blander actor DMX (I think it stands for “Danielle Makes Xylophones”) in yet another lifeless screen performance, is perhaps the most faithful to “Scarface,” offering very little in the ripping-off-other-movies-instead department. It’s the rise and fall of a gangsta pimp, a story told, just like its inspiration, in almost mythic proportions. Unlike it’s inspiration, however, it’s a major bore.

Chalk that up to the charisma-free DMX, who once again plows the story with all the bumble of a non-actor trying to play it tough. The rapper stars as King David, whom we first meet speaking to us from the grave and explaining how he got there - a stale story device if ever there was one. We jump back two days, where he’s entangled in some drug deals gone wrong and such (because drug deals gone right makes for very boring action). He’s up against some drug kingpin whom we know is the main baddie because he sits on a throne - a throne!! - while two scantily clad sexpots massage him. No kidding.

Long story short, King David winds up stabbed by some disgruntled thug, and it’s good samaritan David Arquette - again, no kidding - who races him to the hospital, just in time for him to die. But wait! The gangsta pimp managed to alter his will or something, leaving David Arquette everything, including a series of audio cassettes in which King David recounts his life story. So we flashback yet again, this time to follow his rise to criminal glory, which involves plenty of drug dealing and sex with the ladies.

The script, with all its unfocused time jumping, is one big mess; it lacks a clear track. And it’s not just the structure that hurts the film. I mean, what to make of such laughable dialogue as this gem: “They said revenge is a dish best served cold... I was about to take my shit right out of the freezer!”

Or this: “Whoever said you never get a second chance was a stupid motherfucker.”

Or how about the bit in which King David calls a guy a “Grizzly Adams-looking mother,” except the guy looks nothing like Grizzly Adams?

You can see where this is going. “Never Die Alone” is another ridiculous failed hip-hop action flick, a chance for DMX to do some tough guy posturing that leaves him looking every bit as silly as Rudy Ray Moore in “Dolemite.” This is not a workable drama, just a series of ideas that rap stars who worship “Scarface” think would be cool to see. And its star, who already embarrassed himself in such duds as “Romeo Must Die” and “Cradle 2 the Grave,” is turning into the next useless action star.

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