|Never Die Alone
2004 - R - 82 Mins.
|Director: Ernest Dickerson
|Producer: Earl Simmons, Alessandro Camon
|Written By: J. Kathleen and James Gibson
|Starring: DMX, David Arquette, Jennifer Sky, Paige Hurd, Drew Sidora
|Review by: Joe Rickey
Films based on novels are about as common as rain in Seattle, Washington. That is to say that they are quite common. Basically every weekend a film based on a novel is released into theatres. Just in the last two weeks ‘Secret Window’ and ‘Taking Lives,’ based respectively on a novella by Stephen King and a novel by Michael Pye. Now comes ‘Never Die Alone,’ a film starring rapper DMX and David Arquette (?) based on a novel by gangster turned author David Goines, who wrote sixteen urban novels before being killed in a shooting four years after being released from prison. ‘Never Die Alone’ concerns a drug kingpin (DMX) returning home and quickly being enveloped up into an increasingly violent street war. An aspiring journalist, played by Arquette, records all of the events. Ernest Dickerson (Bones) directs the film written by J. Kathleen and James Gibson.
What are doin' in this film, Arquette?
‘Never Die Alone’ is a trashy film and proud of it. It revels in all of the lead character’s excesses and does anything but shy away from violence. The film really isn’t very good though aside from a few elements of filmmaking it gets down pat. For one, the cinematography while not exactly beautiful, captures the atmosphere of the proceedings perfectly. It is gritty and low-lit; doing anything but glorifying the lifestyle of its characters. Sure, they seem to get much of what they want (women, cars, etc.) but there is also the fact that people constantly want to kill them for various reasons (drug deals gone bad, etc.). This gritty style also must have been easier to achieve than ensuring that each scene is appropriately well-lit; crucial for a film that was shot in only eighteen days when most films take two to three months to complete. Other than these few elements the film doesn’t succeed.
For one, the script is anything but well written. The actors have spout lines that sound like Shakespeare filtered through Tupac Shakur. While I assume that some of them were taken straight from the source novel, in filmic form they don’t work because they come across as overdone and corny. A few rewrites likely would have fixed this problem but, alas, that is not to be. Also, while one can see the ending coming a mile way, must the rest of the film be as predictable? The film’s problems continue with the uniformly poor acting. In the lead role, DMX once again affirms that most musicians turned actors should never have been allowed the career transition in the first place. He has two emotions: bottled up anger and full-blown anger. He is stiff when a charismatic performance would have done the final product a lot of good. Not helping matters is Arquette, somewhat toning down his usual manner while still not giving a good performance.
Overall, ‘Never Die Alone’ is a poor attempt at a combination between an old-fashioned film noir and urban influences. The acting ranges from poor to just plain bad, the predictability of the proceedings is pathetic, and the script is laughable.