Never Die Alone attempts to put a literary bent on the gangsta film, an introspective look at drug-and-thug philosophy. Unfortunately, the plot has more holes in it than a rival gangster at a drive-by shooting.
DMX plays King David, a thug poet that tape records his thoughts while driving, and thus acts as an unreliable narrator throughout the movie. The audience gets a taste of his warped narcissistic values, which advocates drug dealing, betrayal and murder. The King returns to the east coast after hitting the big time out West. He predicts his arrival back to his old neighborhood will not be joyously accepted, an accurate prophecy considering his first scene shows him in a casket.
King David claims, "I must own up to my responsibilities." His goal: to find a son he claimed was never his. Problem is there are a few hoodlums waiting to strip King's crown. He owes cash to drug-kingpin Moon (Clifton Powell). Moon's most trusted gangster Mike (Michael Ealy) carries a nasty facial scar presumably a gift from King David.
King David's plan to "stop running from my past" falls through when he is fatally wounded in a scuffle witnessed by token white guy Paul (David Arquette). Paul drives bloody King to the hospital where he dies, but not before bequeathing his pimpmobile to Paul. Paul, a writer looking for a breakthrough story, happens upon King's tapes. He also becomes the target for Moon's hitmen.
The tapes tell of King David's drug-pushing manipulation of women. They relay a recurrent tale of how he seduced and enslaved TV-bimbo Janet (Jennifer Sky), grad-student Juanita (Reagan Gomez-Preston) and Edna (Keesha Sharp), presumed mother of his son. All sought to flee King David's addictive prison though he allowed only a fatal escape.
Following Never Die Alone can be confusing as the timeline gets knocked around. Flashback to flash-forward to present time until the distinguishing line between them turns into an opiate blur.
Much of the story is illogical or forced. Why would a drug-dealing thug give his life story and his distinctive car to Paul? Why would Paul drive the pimped-out caddie through the neighborhood where King David was just murdered? Why is Paul in the hood to begin with? A lame explanatory scene has him arguing with his well-to-do African-American girlfriend about how he is "slumming it" to get a story. However, his only real interaction with the neighbors is with a bartender.
Furthermore, the relationship between Mike and sister Edna Jr. (Drew Sidora) is unbelievable. One minute tough-love Mike is urging Edna Jr. to "get your ass to school," the next minute he asks her to act like a street whore to help set up King David for a potential murder. What gives?
Finally, why exactly is psychotic narcotic-pusher King David trying to find his son? The whole "responsibility" premise is a joke considering that his previous brutal acts show not a modicum of remorse.
The most prophetic words of the film come when Paul writes his breakthrough story about the bizarre events and his editor claims, "I don't believe a word of it." Neither will you.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun