(The above trailer has spoilers)
Jack lives a simple life. He sleeps in, he plays Bingo at the church, he eats at the diner, and he goes home to sleep. He’s a man of few words and fewer friends. He also shakes off bullet wounds like they’re bug-bites, and drinks blood. And when a gang kidnaps the daughter he didn’t know he had, they’re gonna wish he went back to just playing Bingo.
Despite being a movie where little actually happens, He Never Died refuses to be categorized. Straddling comedy, horror, superhero, character study, and whatever Taken is; the mystery of who or what Jack is takes a backseat to rescuing his daughter and discovering why this small-time mafia took her in the first place.
The film is anchored by Henry Rollins as Jack, who seems more bothered by the plot than anything else, and just wants to return to his routine. From his short sentences to his fighting style, which consists of taking hits, shrugging them off, and shoving the other guy until he falls; Henry sells Jack as a guy that’s numb and used to it. This makes it all the scarier when someone finally gets some emotion out of him. He’s also stubbornly interesting, and the more the character desires to be left alone, the more the movie makes us curious about who he is.
This performance is helped by a screenplay peppered with some really funny moments. Many of them come directly from Jack’s deadpan reactions to everything including being shot, and others like Jack trying to start a fight but finding everyone he comes across too polite, mark He Never Died as almost distinctly Canadian (which I don’t think I’ve ever described a film as before this).
He Never Died’s budget, or lack thereof is made apparent with way more implied action than we’re ever shown; but its unremarkable visual flourishes are boosted by excellent audio, whether it’s the effectively jarring mixing in of animal and other violent noises that take us partly into Jack’s head, or the great soundtrack.
He Never Died is an almost perfect stay-in movie. It’s nothing extraordinary, but Rollins delivers a solid enough performance, and the story itself is interesting enough to more than justify giving this one 100 minutes of your time.