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Overall Rating

Awesome: 4.35%
Worth A Look: 4.35%
Just Average56.52%
Pretty Crappy: 0%
Sucks: 34.78%

3 reviews, 5 user ratings

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Never Die Alone
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by Dennis Swennumson

"It's DMX as you've never seen him before, a street-hardened criminal!"
3 stars

The opening shot of “Never Die Alone” shows its main character in his casket, what follows is narrated from beyond the grave by a ruthless drug dealer named King David. This storytelling technique is unique in a genre where so many movies aspire to be another “Scarface”; this is a film not necessarily about the main character’s exploits but about the lives of those he has influenced; from past girlfriends, connections and old enemies. Unfortunately the quality of “Never Die Alone” never rises above its premise, it’s a pseudo-film noir but what is uncovered as the stories develop is a mashing of typical formulas and glorifications found in most urban crime movies.

David returns to his old neighborhood, seeking to confront his past responsibilities and hoping to find redemption. He owes a large sum of cash to the neighborhood’s current reigning kingpin, Moon, a debt that he seems to have no problem making good on. Moon (Clifton Powell) sends two errand runners, much to their disdain, to pick up the cash. The result of this simple deal leads to a series of events that is pretty much the film’s plot; there’s the betrayal of one of the two representatives, Michael (Michael Ealy), a writer played by David Arquette finds himself as the fish dangerously out of water and more is revealed about the ten years David spent on the west coast.

Considering that he shares a producer credit, this seems to be a role that DMX was more than fit to play. The character of King David is an interesting one, this is a merciless criminal devoid of all compassion, and he has a tendency to hook women on heroin when they think they’re doing cocaine, making them wholly dependent on him. He records all of this thoughts into a tape recorder, the recordings give a sense of conflicting remorse, this is a character probably far beyond the virtue he is seeking. In the scenes that require the gangster hard-headedness, DMX is excellent and completely believable but he struggles in scenes where the character expresses his penance.

Director Ernest R. Dickerson has created a very dark and moody atmosphere, “Never Die Alone” is a completely engaging movie. That’s what makes it such a shame to see so many of these genre conventions in the movie; they really diminish the appeal of the movie’s qualities. The characters are relatively believable, but the lines they spout are not, most of the dialogue sounds like so many introductions to rap CDs featuring false tough-guy bravado.

“Never Die Alone” is a film that seemed to give an interesting take on one of mankind’s fundamental questions, when does one, having led an unsavory life, achieve redemption? This question becomes even more pressing given the movie’s events, how does one achieve this personal restitution without ever getting the chance? These are themes that “Never Die Alone” establishes but never examines, elements that would have definitely kept it separated from the typical cinematic grandiosity found in crime movies.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=8514&reviewer=338
originally posted: 08/08/04 22:24:45
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
This film is available for download or online viewing at CinemaNow.com For more in the CinemaNow.com series, click here.

User Comments

1/19/06 steve newman I stuck it out - i liked the idea although the acting was poor (jan 06) 3 stars
4/15/05 Carol Conway Boring 1 stars
8/24/04 Cire Yrubsilas Good plot and set-up. 4 stars
4/01/04 Omar McIntosh Gadamn, off the mutha fuckin chain 5 stars
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  26-Mar-2004 (R)
  DVD: 13-Jul-2004



Directed by
  Ernest Dickerson

Written by
  James Gibson

  David Arquette
  Michael Ealy
  Clifton Powell
  Reagan Gomez-Preston

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