November 2002
Half Past Dead

Reviewed by Monikka Stallworth

Half Past Dead

Distributor: Screen Gems
Director: Don Michael Paul
Screenwriter: Don Michael Paul
Producers: Andrew Stevens & Elie Samaha
Rating: PG-13
Cast: Steven Seagal, Morris Chestnut, Ja Rule, Nia Peeples, Tony Plana, & Kurupt

Morris Chestnut in Columbia's Half Past Dead - 2002

 

 

Morris Chestnut and Nia Peeples in Columbia's Half Past Dead - 2002

 

 

Ja Rule and Steven Seagal in Columbia's Half Past Dead - 2002

In Half Past Dead, a cherub faced Steven Seagal teams up with an eclectic cast that includes Morris Chestnut, Ja Rule, Nia Peeples (yes, Nia Peeples!), Tony Plana and Kurupt. Morris Chestnut is divine as Donny, a disgruntled prison bureaucrat-turned-criminal mastermind. Nia Peeples is "49er Six", Donnyís fearless, bad girl enforcer. Itís 2002 and The California Penal Authority has reopened the most notorious prison in history, Alcatraz.

Itís the eve of Lesterís (Bruce Weitz) execution. Seems Lester robbed an armored vehicle and stole $200 million worth of gold. The gold hasnít been recovered and Lester refuses to tell anyone where it is. Within moments of Lesterís execution, Donny (Morris Chestnut) flips the script, takes over the prison and stalls the execution in order to find out from Lester where the gold is buried.

But alas, Sascha Petrosevitch (Steven Seagal), a widowed undercover agent posing as a tough, international car thief, just happens to be maintaining his cover as a prisoner in the newly refurbished, high-tech Alcatraz. Nick Frazier (Ja-Rule) is a career criminal and to-the-death-friend of Saschaís, although he has no clue that Saschaís an undercover agent. Anymore, and Iíd be ruining the movie-going experience for you.

Considering the genre, Half Past Dead ainít half bad. And Iím not mad at Seagal for playing the same stoic, tough guy role he plays in all of his movies. This time around he sports a doo-rag and oftentimes mumbles in ebonics. No offense taken to the young-street-thug (Ja Rule) giving-the-old-white-guy (Seagal) ebonicís-lessons scene. Corny and oh so contrived, I just gotta give Seagal points for being so true to himself. His outdated portrayals are so absurd, they come off harmless, even laughable and Seagal emerges as a slightly annoying, but mostly endearing action hero. Go Steven. Did I mention that Morris Chestnut is divine? Oh and if you do venture out to see Half Past Dead, make sure to stick around for the ending credits. Korupt and comedienne Monique share an amusing and quirky exchange.