Never Die Alone Ernest Dickerson

Never Die Alone Ernest Dickerson
Despite strong performances by DMX and Michael Ealy, and a vivid novel by famed crime writer Donald Goines to draw from, Never Die Alone suffers from the convoluted and heavy-handed execution of its storyline. Director Ernest Dickerson is perhaps best known for 1992's Juice, a hard look at peer pressure in the projects starring a young breakout star named Tupac Shakur. It's really no surprise that Dickerson called upon the heir to Shakur's gritty rapping/acting throne to fill the role of one of the most despicable characters in cinematic history. After ten years in L.A., a slimy drug lord who goes by the name "King David" (DMX) returns to his home turf in NYC to make amends with a gangland associate whom he bilked out of money before fleeing. Though David hopes to redeem himself by repaying his former partner in crime and starting life anew, we already know he's doomed; the film's noir-ish opening shows David in a coffin addressing his audience from the grave. After a young tough named Michael (Ealy) avenges his mother's murder by stabbing David, the hapless gangster is rushed to the hospital by an aspiring writer named Paul (David Arquette) who is obsessed with African-American culture. When David dies, Paul discovers a series of audio tapes in which the despicable pusher narrates his sordid memoirs. These stories provide the film with a vehicle to flash back and dramatise David's horrid history of hooking women on drugs before eventually mistreating them and providing them with a lethal dose should they threaten to call the police on his ass. "He's one of the most wretched characters I've ever read for the screen, period," Ealy says of David in a revealing "making of" featurette. "Somehow DMX gives him some sort of charm, which is really sick." Lifelong Goines fan DMX agrees, "I don't like me in this movie. I love my acting but I don't like some of the things he did — especially with the women." While the scenes themselves are disturbing, the jarring and laboured time travel within the non-linear plot make them all the more disconcerting, forcing Dickerson to vigorously flit back and forth without cohesion. Though the film's performances are believable, Never Die Alone suffers for its erratic editing. Plus: commentary by DMX and Ernest Dickerson, 11 deleted scenes, trailers. (Fox)