Nothing against Black Flag, a band I’ve heard of but never listened to, but I never liked Henry Rollins: he’s a banal, socially-conscious Hollywood “rebel” who supported the Occupy movement and loudly proclaims anyone to the right of Noam Chomsky to be a sister-humping mental defective. I understand that the vast majority of people in show business hold the same opinions as he does, but they’re not typically so vocal about it.
However, as Jack in the film He Never Died, he did incredible work, investing his role with a kind of humorous brutality few actors could have managed.
Jack is a shut-in, a self-directed outcast who speaks in a clipped, affectless manner and eats human flesh when he’s hungry enough. When he gets an unwelcome telephone call from an old flame, his carefully-constructed existence falls to pieces, forcing him to engage in some truly brutal, horrific violence.
What made the film so funny wasn’t Jack’s lines, but what he didn’t say and how he ignored basic social niceties because he simply does not care about the feelings of others. Combined with his size and generally frightening appearance, he can get away with that and suffer few consequences: he can’t be embarrassed, he’s not concerned about what you think, and if he gets mad at you, you’re hosed. In many respects he’s all id until his superego comes calling. Literally.
What didn’t work so well was the plot, which got clumsily shoehorned into the last half of the film; the main antagonist failed to evoke any tension and I was left at the end of the movie wondering why I should care about what happened.
Nevertheless, the rest of it is worth watching. Four out of five stars. Under the break I have some spoilers that I want to mention.
Jack’s true identity as Cain bugged the hell out of me. I understand that there’s an obscure legend that Cain is actually descended from Eve and an angel, making him a Nephilim, but that’s kind of dumb. So the scars on his back where wings used to be ended up as kind of a disappointment. And if he was Cain, where was his Mark?
Finally, Rollins as Jack said that his original name was pronounced “Kayyin,” which doesn’t make sense. According to Biblical tradition, it would have the Hebrew pronunciation “Kah-een.”
Why not have him be a fallen angel, if you were going to give him wing-scars?