Sasha Petrosevitch is deep undercover with the FBI. How deep? Well he’s sent to the advanced prison Alcatraz 2 ahead of the execution of Lester McKenna. Low and behold a gang of terrorists take over the island and hold a Supreme Court Justice for ransom. Can Sasha make sense of all this craziness and stop them before it’s too late? Find out in… Half Past Dead.
How?! A lot is going on in this film. A LOT. At first we see Sasha as the partner in crime of Nick, a criminal in deep with the mob. When they are caught, Sasha takes a bullet for him and is dead for like five minutes… not sure why that’s important actually. Anyway, eight months later they find themselves back together in Alcatraz 2 just before the first major execution at the prison. Lester McKenna is ready to die for stealing $200 million in a bank robbery that left five people dead. He’s real sorry for everything and even the Supreme Court Justice who sentenced him comes to see him because she knows he changed… There’s even some weird sexual chemistry between the two and I was into it. Lester wants to talk to Sasha for some reason and while they are chit chatting about life and death a bunch of terrorists led by 49er One, who works for the prison, parachute in. They take down the security protection and with a big storm brewing isolate the prison. As they grab Lester and the Justice as hostages they nearly kill Sasha, but he escapes in time to start doing his classic Steven Seagal Under Siege shit. He’s moving around the prison all nimbly bimbly, kills a bunch of the terrorists, and even manages to get Lester away from the terrorists. After gathering an army of fellow prisoners with Nick, they set up a trade: Lester for the Justice. Lester even tells Sasha where all the gold is because he recognizes that Sasha doesn’t want it for himself. But the switch is actually a switcheroo! The terrorists get both Lester and the Justice and, after a major fire fight between the prisoners and the terrorists, manage to escape in a helicopter. Sasha is like “FBI, get me a helicopter.” They chase after them and when they catch up the terrorists push the Justice out of the helicopter. Sasha leaps out after her while the terrorists realize that they were also victims of a real twist-em-up. Lester is wearing a bomb! They explode just as Sasha is able to parachute down and save the Justice. Later we see that Sasha found the gold and helped get Nick released. Hooray! THE END.
Why?! This is almost an 80’s/90’s film in its motivations. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a bad guy talk about how doing good pays shit and he’s going to get what he deserves by doing bad. Blah blah blah. Have fun being a fugitive, Morris Chestnut. As for Sasha, he’s really in it to get revenge for the death of his wife. It’s such a minor aspect of the film that I didn’t even mention it in the recap, but yeah, he’s undercover and using Nick to get closer to his boss who was responsible for her death. At the end he offhand mentions that, oh, by the way, I got him. As always it feels like Seagal is just riffing some of these things at times and the director just has to be like, “whatever, sure his wife died, fine.”
Who?! Obviously Ja Rule is a principal actor in this guy, but he’s not the only musician-turned-actor. Kurupt is also featured for a little comic relief and had a surprisingly substantial acting career. The only interesting credit here (besides a rare Supreme Court Justice character) is that Michael Bay got a Special Thanks for allowing the use of some establishing shots from The Rock… apparently he was good friends with the director of this that directly ripped off his own film. Didn’t seem to care, which is kinda cool of him.
What?! A little bit of a MacGuffin twist since Lester is more the MacGuffin himself. They need his sweet, sweet knowledge of where the treasure is and so the Supreme Court Justice is used as a pawn in the game. All kinds of trades and switcheroos going on, not to mention Seagal being such a bro that Lester willingly gives up the treasure location (thus removing his MacGuffin status) and blows himself to smithereens. Word up to Lester.
Where?! Alcatraz 4 Life, baby. I actually wonder whether this could be the only film set on Alcatraz (so not just shown briefly) that qualifies for BMT. It’s possible, but I’ll have to do my research. This obviously makes the film an A… pretty fundamental to the plot that this all takes place at Alcatraz 2. But it’s also not really a great California or even San Francisco film. Funny that there are places that can transcend their surroundings.
When?! The film has an excessive number of intertitles, so we are informed that the events take place, in total, over 9 months. Likely from early Spring to Fall. However, the more interesting aspect is that this clearly takes place in the future. Not only is there an Alcatraz 2, but news reports we are shown say that giant sharks are being caught and the ice caps have completely melted. That bumps you to a B-.
I cannot believe this was released to theaters. There was a very brief moment at the beginning of the film where I thought, “wait, are Steven Seagal and Ja Rule actually acting? Is this going to be a better than expected film?” The answer came fast and furious in the very next scene where they are both being sent to Alcatraz 2… nuff said. After that it is a blatant The Rock rip-off cranked up to 12 (only because The Rock was already cranked to 11). It’s only fitting that Seagal and his band of merry prisoners take on parachuting x-treme terrorists hell bent on taking a Supreme Court Justice hostage. It’s also fitting that this lunacy was the straw that finally broke the camel’s back of Seagal’s career. It is a very, very fun (and very, very, very dumb) action film, which make it a prime candidate for BMT. This should be making some noise at the Smaddies Baddies this year. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! Steven Seagal is back!!! We are very very slowly moving through his filmography. In another ten years we’ll be through them I think. Let’s go!
P’s View on the Preview – With this film we will officially be more than halfway through Seagal’s BMT filmography! BMT! BMT! BMT! Watching the preview and stuff just got me amped to watch Steven Seagal in a durag in prison. It is everything a little boy could dream of. What were my expectations? I guess rap music and Steven Seagal shooting guns because he’s too lazy to do much real fighting anymore since he was already fat at this point? Those were my expectations. If I recall correctly Exit Wounds in particular was pretty boring, and this came out after that, so there was definitely some risk we were officially seeing a direct-to-video Seagal film by accident.
The Good – The setting of Alcatraz is genuinely hilarious. To come out in 2001 and posit an idea where the U.S. Government / California decided a good use of money was to revamp the island prison of Alcatraz into a super duper max prison where they have a specialized highly efficient execution machine … I’m at a loss for words. The absurdity makes it go all the way past bad and it becomes good again. I love it. I’m in love with it. In a weird way I was also kind of into both Nia Peeples and Ja Rule. The energy they bring to the movie works well for what it is I think. Best Bit: Alcatraz babyyyyyyyyyyyyy.
The Bad – Steven Seagal? Steven Seagal is bad. It is ludicrous what he was doing with himself and his characters at this point in his career. I have no idea what he is thinking with these choices. There is zero doubt in my mind he was the one who said he was going to wear a durag. The entire end scene where Seagal blows up a helicopter at what appears to be 10,000 feet and then skydives with one parachute to save a Supreme Court Justice … yes, all of this happened!! The movie is absurd, and in a way it is delightful. But there is no doubt about it: this is a terrible film by almost any standard. Morris Chestnut as television-level sociopath spouting on about how he “feels nothing and could kill everyone in this room without feeling anything” isn’t helping matters. Fatal Flaw: Late stage Steven Seagal. This film has terminal Steven-Seagal-itis.
The BMT – Heeeeeeeeeeell yes. And I’m as surprised as anyone. I kind of had a feeling it was going to be pretty fun to watch because of the setting (Escape Plan-level nonsense prison films are almost always highly amusing to watch), but there was always that I-don’t-know-what-is-happening-in-Exit-Wounds possibility for this film. But no, they stuck to the (escape) plan and kept us in crazy-Alcatraz-2.0 and everything worked out for the better in my opinion. Did it meet my expectations? It exceeded them! And that is a shock. I think this is the last Steven Seagal film that was released to theaters, so I was very much expecting it to actually be secretly boring.
Roast-radamus – There is such a good Planchet (Who?) named Twitch (played by the rapper Kurupt) that he becomes the star of the direct-to-video sequel (more on that later)! A very very good Setting as a Character (Where?) for Alcatraz 2.0, the super duper max robot prison Steven Seagal is sent to. Huge MacGuffin (Why?) film with the $200 (or whatever) million dollar bounty of gold the soon-to-be-executed prisoner hid somewhere. And a solid Worst Twist (How?) for the not-so-subtle twist that Steven Seagal is an undercover agent, and not, in fact, a hardened criminal mastermind (who’da thunk it?!). Obviously closest to BMT and a spectacular list of superlatives to boot.
Sequel, Prequel, Remake – I mean, there are so many possibilities. Steven Seagal’s character is a deep cover agent for the FBI, so I’m thinking Prequel. It would star Kellen Lutz as a young Sasha Petrosevitch, a master of Akito, and FBI agent extraordinaire as he attempts to infiltrate a gang who is trying to pull off the biggest heist in history: steal all of the gold in Fort Knox. The plan is to set off a large-scale attack in the area, all while getting themselves sealed in Fort Knox posing as army officers. But how will they get out? Tunnels and motorcycles of course. Petrosevich has posed as their explosives expert (because he is … an explosives expert I mean), and is now on the inside. But is he willing to blow the tunnels, bury the gold, and kill his new found friends in the process? Nope, but is he willing to get into a high speed boat chase down the Mississippi River once they all successfully escape and bring his buddies to justice. In the end he gets the gold (and the girl, is that wedding bells and foreshadowing I hear?) and accolades galore … but the celebration is cut short when the news reports that Lester McKenna just stole a boatload of gold in a simultaneous heist across the country. Lutz looks at his captain like “here we go again” and laughs. Quarter Till Dead is maybe the best title in the universe and no one can tell me otherwise.
You Just Got Schooled – Naturally, after watching this film I was just jonesing for more of that sweet Half Past Dead action with Half Past Dead 2. The film starts off with crackling energy by featuring Twitch and the warden from the first film exchanging words on Alcatraz 2.0 and I’m like “wait, are they actually going to set it on Alcatraz, that’ll be expensive”. But alas, my fears were realized when Twitch intentionally gets himself sent to a supermax prison in (checks notes) Missouri so that they no longer have to pay for a single ocean vista. The storyline is basically that Twitch wants to escape to find the second half of the aforementioned gold stash, and Bill Goldberg (from the WWE) is a prisoner with a heart of gold who needs to save his daughter during a prison riot. Yada yada yada, they save the day, Twitch gets paroled, Goldberg gets $80 million in gold, everyone lives happily ever after. Well, except for me, since I wasted two hours watching Half Past Dead 2. C+. The film is garbage, but saved by the setting. Like a homeless man’s Prison Break, there is something fun about cheesy prison movies, what can I say.