Half Past Dead (2002)

Half Past Dead (2002)

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Seagal in a bandanna. Trying to be hip. Nah.
Seagal in a bandanna. Trying to be hip. Nah.

Twitter Plot Summary: An ageing Steven Seagal tries to prove he’s still hip and cool by going undercover in prison and wearing a bandanna.

Genre: Action/Crime/Thriller

Director: Don Michael Paul

Key Cast: Steven Seagal, Morris Chestnut, Matt Battaglia, Nia Peeples, Ja Rule.

Five Point Summary:

1. “If you think you’re hard, I’m harder.” Erm… what?
2. Seagal, you’re old. The bandanna isn’t fooling anyone.
3. I think the makers of this film watched The Matrix before they started filming.
4. All of the sets look tiny. Big movie budget this ain’t.
5. Steven Seagal skydiving. Yes, they went there.

Yep, another Steven Seagal film. I may get round to writing about some decent films at some point, but SyFy are showing a lot of Seagal movies at the moment so I’m working my way through their offerings and laughing at how bad they are. Seagal’s fallen a long way since Under Siege, and let’s face it, Under Siege was hardly the pinnacle in cinematic entertainment.

So what’s actually going on then? Seagal is an undercover FBI agent who’s so cool he can lie his way through a polygraph and so badass he lets his best friend Nick fly out of a moving vehicle, at speed, without actually hurting him. After he takes a few bullets saving Nick’s life (in the first of many pointless gunfights), Seagal is transported to New Alcatraz prison and sets about trying to locate those responsible for the death of his wife. But then everything goes a bit Matrix-y and a team of trench coat wearing villains break in (yes, break IN) and start walking over the camera just because it looks cool or something. They’re trying to get a criminal mastermind, who is about to be sent to the electric chair, to reveal the whereabouts of millions of dollars in gold that he stole.

Is this Half Past Dead, The Matrix or Underworld?
Is this Half Past Dead, The Matrix or Underworld?

Seagal does his usual spiel, he whispers his way through the entire movie and slappy slaps anybody who gets in his way. He does have a few moves still left in him, but the camera is far too close to the fights and all you see are flailing limbs. There are gunfights, explosions and people flying through the air in slow motion. Absolutely none of it makes any sense at all and the laws of physics are gleefully ignored. You’ll also note that, whenever somebody falls from a great height you won’t ever see them hit the ground. In my mind they always stop falling a few feet from the ground and just hover there. It’s also a rare occasion when somebody runs out of bullets. In fact this only happens when the script dictates it, the rest of the time it’s just a never-ending stream of bullets and things going boom.
Character backstory and exposition is inserted haphazardly into the script. Funky camera angles are the order of the day, and inappropriate attempts at humour are littered throughout. I expect this was in an effort to lighten up the film, just in case the mundane action sequences weren’t doing it for you. Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t work.

The soundtrack is exclusively hip-hop and scream-core. Nothing wrong with that of course, but in my experience that means the film is horribly cheap. And yes, it is. The action is limited to two main sets and lots of corridors. When the director feels the need to film all of the dialogue by using extreme close-ups on every actor, you know that he only has a limited number of sets and can’t risk the audience picking up on this.

I’ve jut discovered that they made a Half Past Dead 2 with Bill Goldberg in the lead role. Yeah, that guy who used to be a professional wrestler. If there’s any film that has the potential to be worse than Half Past Dead, is it’s own misjudged sequel. Watch this space.

Favourite scene: Seagal and the big bad fly around on chains, then rip off the “Do you feel lucky punk?” spiel. It’s entertaining yet terrible in equal measure.

Quote: “The rumour is you went half past dead and came back.”

Silly Moment:  Seagal saving a security guard, who has been shot several times, by shocking him with his own electric prod.

Score: 1.5/5

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