Half Past Dead

"Weak"

Half Past Dead Review


Martin Boris Velanov is the hardest working man in show business. According to the end credits for the prison thriller Half Past Dead, Mr. Velanov works full-time (some would say "overtime") as the stand-in for Steven Seagal, a past-his-prime action hero mistakenly labeled as marketable after his last endeavor, Exit Wounds, found an audience.

By my calculations - and this is far from scientific - Seagal appears in approximately 15% of his own scenes. The rest of the time, director Don Michael Paul uses quick-cuts, (very) large shadows and wide-angle shots taken from a distance to hide the liberal use of a body double. So why use Seagal at all? Is he really a draw? An effective marketing tool?

This time out, Seagal plays an FBI agent working deep undercover at the New Alcatraz prison facility the night it's infiltrated by armed assailants. Led by the domineering 49er One (Morris Chestnut), this mini-army seeks to capture Lester McKenna (Bruce Weitz), a passive prisoner carrying out a death sentence for unintentionally murdering police officers during a hit on a U.S. money train. Lester's in the hot seat because he hid his stash, worth $200 million in gold bars, and has yet to reveal the fortune's location.

Dead earned a PG-13 rating, which means bullets fly but rarely connect. Any fatalities incurred (and there are very few) happen off-screen. Pyrotechnics send bodies catapulting through windows and doors, while people emerge with nary a scratch. There are countless scenes where characters face off approximately six feet from each other and begin firing weapons... but no one ever gets hit.

Director Don Michael Paul certainly doesn't embarrass himself in his feature film debut. His influences, however, are evident, having helmed episodes of USA Network schlock like Renegade, Pacific Blue, and Silk Stalkings. Paul has a habit of framing his actors from forehead to chin (or chins, in Seagal's case). He employs every visual trick in the book, though his obvious favorite appears to be the slow-motion shot. It's used far too often here.

Chestnut - who's been in better - makes a suitable villain. Driven by greed, 49er One balances sadism with sleaze. To his credit, Chestnut actually tries to act in this dead-end production. I guess he didn't get the memo that went out to rapping co-stars Ja Rule and Kurupt which mistakenly informed them that acting chops could be substituted with attitude. One of 49er One's shadowy goons does stand out from the crowd. Played by sexy vamp Nia Peeples, 49er Six could evolve into a new action star, given the right marketing push. Brutish, sleek, and steely, she looks like the girl Carrie Anne Moss beat out for The Matrix.

Towards the end of the film, a convict played by Rule climbs into the cockpit of a downed helicopter (don't ask) and mans the vehicle's gun port. "This is just like a video game," he shouts. So where's the reset button?

Yep, exactly half past dead.



Half Past Dead

Facts and Figures

Run time: 98 mins

In Theaters: Friday 15th November 2002

Box Office USA: $15.4M

Budget: $13M

Distributed by: Screen Gems

Production compaines: Franchise Pictures, Screen Gems

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 3%
Fresh: 3 Rotten: 84

IMDB: 4.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Starring: as Sasha Petrosevitch, as Donald Robert Johnson, as Nicolas 'Nick' Frazier, as 49er Six, as Warden El Fuego, as Agent Hartmann, Alexandra Kamp-Groeneveld as Reporter

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Chips Movie Review

Chips Movie Review

It's clear from the very start that this movie has little to do with the...

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Advertisement
Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.