Helmer Ernest R. Dickerson ("Juice," "Bulletproof") infuses this urban noir with a highly stylized cinematic technique that gives the film a lot of attitude, tilting his camera at sharp angles, lighting the frame with dramatic intensity and at one point experimenting with a vertical image before rotating out of the 90-degree angle to striking effect. Meanwhile, Dickerson's lens fairly caresses his leading man with erotic close-ups. DMX possesses a commanding magnetism and gives a powerful, sexy performance.
But "Never Die Alone," based on the cult novel by popular ex-con author Donald Goines, is hampered by its convoluted plot and a marked melodramatic streak that counteracts the film's cool factor. There's a lot of moving back and forth in time--to two days earlier, to 10 years ago, with past and present action running concurrently in parallel storylines. One soon loses track of where the characters are going, what they're going to do when they get there and why. Starring DMX, David Arquette, Michael Ealy, Clifton Powell and Reagan Gomez-Preston. Directed by Ernest Dickerson. Written by James Gibson. Produced by Earl Simmons and Alessandro Camon. A Fox Searchlight release. Drama. Rated R for strong violence, drug use, sexuality and language. Running time: 82 min