This movie tells the story of a man who goes undercover in a hi-tech prison to find out information to help prosecute those who killed his wife. While there he stumbles onto a plot involving a death-row inmate and his $200 million stash of gold.
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Renée Elise Goldsberry
A criminal mastermind has set in motion a plan to infiltrate a high tech prison in order to persuade a death row inmate to reveal the whereabouts of $200 million worth of gold. It's up to an undercover FBI agent to stop him before it's too late. Written by
For a man that is not feeling well, this was the perfect no brainer film to help me conquer those sweats and chills. There was unrealistic fighting, a Swiss cheese plot, and characters that we cared nothing for, which allowed me to doze off and still know what was happening. This was a Steven Seagal film, so I wasn't expecting much, but honestly, after several of his film you come to realize that they are all very similar and Seagal has not changed his fighting habits at all over the years. He is still using the same fist moves that made him popular in Above the Law. Why should he change? He is Steven Seagal.
So, take his old-school 1980s fighting techniques and combine it with a modern day rap artist like Ja-Rule (especially after his popularity with DMX in Exit Wounds), and you have the film Half Past Dead. So, let's begin. The fighting was laughable. I think that if a gust of wind hit Ja-Rule he would fly halfway across the room. Also, why did it become increasingly obvious that Ja-Rule was not doing his own fight sequences? Throughout his fighting with Nia Peeples, it is very clear that it is not Ja-Rule. How could a director allow such a blatant error happen in an action film? This is not the only case of action gone wrong. There are several scenes in which bullets defy their projected path and gravity. Also, let us not forget the flying fists of Seagal which had the sounds of some hard hits, but it was very obvious that he was mock fighting with most of the extras. This unrealistic fighting knocked this film from five stars to four stars.
So, let's move past the fighting. What is a good action film without the story to accompany the fighting? Sadly, director Don Michael Paul felt as if there was no story needed. Why bother the audience with a story when we have Ja-Rule and Steven Seagal fighting together on-screen? The plot was riddled with more holes that my high school underwear. It was as if we were not seeing the entire picture, and instead of showing us the director relied on words to tell us. Some examples of what I mean are how Sasha and Nick first met. I needed to see this. Without this story and seeing their trust be born, it became less emotional when it was broken. I didn't care, I needed to know more about them. The side-story about Seagal's wife was just filler. He has these visions of her that help him live after a gun battle, but that is all we know about her. When I first saw this scene, I thought it was going to be a major influence in the film. Sadly, I believe that was the last mention of the wife. The Prisoner's story with the gold was horrible. I didn't know enough about the guy to make me see the evil in his ways. This ultimately led to an unclimactic ending with this Prisoner. Does anyone really know who Morris Chestnut's character was? How did he get the money to finance this operation, and how did he become the inside man? I needed answers of which Don Michael Paul was not willing to provide. The lack of story and weakness of the main characters knocked this film from four stars to two.
Finally, I would like to comment on the title. What does it mean? Was it a reference to the time when Sasha almost died, or is it a reference to the lack of caring about life from Ja-Rule and the inmates (remember his line, 'Tonight is a good time to die'). I don't know. This led me to the ultimate conclusion about this film. The director just didn't care. He was happy to have Seagal and Ja-Rule signed on, so everything else became second fiddle. In the range of action films, this is pretty poor. Unrealistic fighting with an overabundance of clichéd lines only plummeted this film deeper into the world of action. To be brutally honest, Ja-Rule cannot act, and this became a problem in this film. He needed a smaller film to get his feet wet and see if he was ready for the cinema world. Half Past Dead was not the best role for him. This film is the perfect example of a movie made just to get rap artists some screen time and attempt to bring an overweight action start from the 80s into the new generation. Sadly, in Half Past Dead it didn't work.
Grade: * out of *****
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