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August 18-31
VOL.14 ISSUE. 26
HOME / STORY

Rollins With Punches

Jorge Ignacio Castillo
Published Thursday January 7, 06:07 pm
Black Flag’s old frontman as a cranky immortal? Yup.

He Never Died
Broadway
Jan. 8-14
3 out of 5

Much like Marilyn Manson, Henry Rollins is far more interesting than his detractors would have us believe. After getting his start as the lead singer of Black Flag and the Henry Rollins Band, the rocker has evolved into a journalist, travel writer and part-time actor — yet he has managed to remain on the fringes of showbiz.

It’s no surprise his first starring role in a film comes in a low-budget indie. But budget aside, He Never Died is quite clever and Rollins creates a character that transcends the frame.

As the title gives away, Rollins plays a guy who doesn’t die. Much like a vampire, Jack needs blood and flesh to survive. He doesn’t seem to enjoy his immortality very much, and spends his days holed-up in a dingy apartment sleeping or going for oatmeal at a nearby diner.

Jack would rather be haunted by nightmares from his checkered past. But instead he’s pestered by humans — specifically, a daughter he didn’t know he had, a waitress who finds his rugged looks attractive and, most of all, a pesky group of mobsters determined to kill him for unknown reasons.

As entertaining as it is to witness goons fail miserably at slaying Rollins, He Never Died works best as a character study. Jack is an intriguing creation. Every reveal leads to more questions, including a novel twist. A never better Rollins plays him slightly off, socially inept, exasperated by humanity’s follies.

The mystery that drives the plot is wobbly at best, and towards the end writer-director Jason Krawczyk fully loses his grasp of it. However, the truncated conclusion exposes untapped potential, with a solid lead and plenty of backstory to look into. Perhaps another visit to this universe is in the cards.

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