It is always great to see Henry Rollins in TV and film. In ‘He Never Died’ Henry Rollins plays Jack, a depressed and socially deprived man whose only connection to the world is bingo, eating vegetarian food in a diner and meeting a medical intern for his top-up of human body parts for supper.
It was obvious from the outset of the film that there were going to be religious elements to the film and they certainly do not disappoint. Henry Rollins ultimately carried this film on his shoulders and he is engaging to the point that some of the faults of the film can be overlooked.
The last time I seen Rollins make an appearance was on Son’s of Anarchy as a neo-Nazi. One of the first films I remember seeing him in was 1995’s ‘Johnny Mnemonic’ and as of recent he is hosting the Sunday evening service on BBC Radio 6. Rollins has been involved in so many projects such as the 1980s punk band ‘Black Flag’, writing great works like ‘Get in the van’ and doing stand-up comedy. His ethos is to keep working and keep busy, as life on the road appeals to him more than anything else.
His charisma is what held this movie from being a severely mediocre film. He made this film feel somewhat engaging at times. The deadpan humour is what takes this film away from taking itself too seriously, while at the same time it can be quite dark and thrilling. The plot revolves around Jack, a man who lives in solitude with his demons and he is not fazed by anything that happens in life. On the surface he is extremely depressed and is numb to all feelings of both extreme pleasure and pain.
His comfortable routine of being delightfully depressed is interrupted with the arrival of his 19-year-old daughter who unexpectedly bursts back into his life and is welcomed as you would imagine she would be by someone like Jack. Even when she is kidnapped and Jack is given the ultimatum to face the men he has wronged, or risk his daughter’s life, he simply rolls back into bed and sighs like a teenager being lectured by his parents. This is the deadpan humour that manages to make this film not look like it is taking itself too seriously.
The only reason Jack decides to save his daughter is because he realizes that she was kidnapped to act as an insult to him, and not as an ace in the hole for any type of negotiations. The final showdown is bloody and he makes himself clear that his antagonist has no hope to making it through by explaining he ‘has killed innocent 8-years for no reason, so what makes him think he will live’.
The religious connotations in the film give insight into who Jack is. According to Jack, he is the biblical character ‘Cain’. Cain was the first son of Eve and he killed his brother Abel, out of the jealousy that God preferred Abel’s sacrifice of a lamb over his sacrifice of crops. Cain’s act of murder was the first and as a such he was punished to walk the earth with the mark of Cain. Theologians have debated what that mark is for centuries, but in the film it is given to us in the first scene.
The mark is indicative of where he once had wings. Many theologians have speculated that Cain was the son of Eve, but not Adam. It has been proposed that Cain is a ‘nephilim’, in other words half-human, half-angel because Eve may have slept with anyone from Satan to a fallen angel. Eve really was a bit of a village bike.
Cain’s punishment also includes walking the earth until the end of days and the film portrays this in an interesting fashion. It is always hinted that Jack has been involved in unforgivable acts, from being a Nazi to killing innocent people for the purpose of feeding his urges for human flesh. It is only now that he is trying to stay steady and vigilant of his actions. He does so with bingo and a vegan diet.
This film was able to turn around the romanticized notion of being immortal, something that a lot of films and television shows miss out on. Jack is immortal and as a result has grown deeply depressed with the passing of time. His time on earth has made him solitary to having feelings and his melancholy demeanor is never-ending, even in the face of danger. The last time he gave a fuck was 19 years ago and that is how his daughter came to be.
The film could have easily made the mistake of wanting to be too serious and thankfully it wasn’t. Rollins pulled off a fantastic performance and kept this film from floundering. Rollins’ isn’t usually someone with a significant role in many films or television series. With that said he is someone with a lot of confidence, from performing live, presenting podcasts and radio shows to presenting a show titled ‘The Henry Rollins Show’. He isn’t someone who hasn’t been around the block with putting himself out there.
The film earns a nice Fallout thumbs up from me and I recommend giving it a watch. There might be a mini-series that looks further back into Jack’s history, though that news is nearly 2 years old and it isn’t looking very likely.
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