Half Past Dead

Creativity is dead. In fact, it’s Half Past Dead–whatever that means.

It’s easy to blame the behemoth Hollywood movie making machine for such recycled trash, but really, here the shame belongs solely to writer/director Don Michael Paul.

Half Past Dead rips off nearly every movie ever made, bad or good. Steven Seagal already paired up with a rapper once (Exit Wounds). There, DMX took the spot opposite Seagal; this time, it was a basically funny Ja Rule, who should really be paired up with a comedian for his next foray into film.

If only the imitations stopped there. Seagal plays a Russian gone undercover for the FBI to avenge his wife’s murder (The Salton Sea). This time, the setting is a reopened, sort-of-renovated Alcatraz, where Seagal battles commando-style evil-doers (The Rock). This movie barely worked before and only because of the talent of Sean Connery. In several Matrix-like scenes, the baddies–complete with black leather pants, ankle-length trenchcoats and a crashing helicopter–take over the prison in order to rescue a thief on deathrow, to find out where he hid the money (The Great Train Robbery). Seagal takes them on John McClane-style (Die Hard), even going so far as writing on bodies for shock value. The baddies have a few tricks up their sleeve, including a Lucy Liu rip off who thinks she’s the toughest thing in the world (Ballistic: Ecks vs. Severs). However, Seagal not only has Ja Rule and a helpful crew of convicts (Con Air), but the thief the evil commandos are trying to escape with doesn’t even want to escape–he’s seen the error of his ways, and wants to die so God can forgive him.

This is where Half Past Dead leaves the realm of imitation and just gets frightening. Aside from the oddly placed religious sentiment, there’s some messed up race and gender relations happening here. According to this movie, Seagal’s character faces discrimination as a Russian, but Ja Rule’s doesn’t.Ja Rule is not only black, but the discriminator in the scene is an Eastern European crime lord. Isn’t Russia part of Eastern Europe? Surely the hood isn’t.

The weirdest, most disturbing scene comes when the leader of the bad guys talks down one of the hostages, a white, female Supreme Court Justice–the youngest in U.S. history. He manages to make her cry when he points out her life is a waste because she doesn’t have children, or a dog. When she proclaims her work is what she lives for, she’s laughed at. Maybe this was Paul’s way of making the villains extra evil–not only do they murder at random, they’re misogynists, too! But then again, that lady FBI agent came off pretty butch, too.

No one should ever expect much from a Steven Seagal flick, but this is horrible. If the only avenue Don Michael Paul has for being different is making polictically incorrect, and demeaning films, hopefully his career will be more than Half Past Dead very, very soon.

..Nicole Kobie

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