Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 26 minutes
MPAA Rating: R for Strong Bloody Violence, Disturbing Images, Pervasive Language, and some Sexuality/Nudity
Directed by: Ryuhei Kitamura
Written by: David Lawrence Cohen
Starring: Luke Evans, Adelaide Clemens, Lee Tergesen, Laura Ramsey, Derek Magyar, Beau Knapp, America Olivo, Brodus Clay & Lindsey Shaw
With a director of insanely violent and stylized action scenes and WWE producing this film, one might expect that NO ONE LIVES honestly delivers on its title in the most blood-soaked and gruesome of ways. I certainly thought this when I began watching. I certainly wasn’t expecting high art or smart storytelling. I just wanted to be barraged with a gorefest that lived up to its title and promising premise. Instead, NO ONE LIVES falls on the disappointing and lackluster side of things. There are some cool scenes and the gore effects are pretty neat to behold, but there’s not enough of either to keep the audience entertained.
A man simply known as Driver (it’s listed in the credits as well) is moving across the country with his wife. It’s clear that something has brought about the move and both of them are reluctant to speak of it. Things seem to be going well in the little backwoods community they are traveling through, until they are harassed by a gang of murderous thugs. One thing leads to another and soon the Driver’s wife has been killed at the hands of one of these criminals. What follows is a tale of revenge, but this isn’t your average story. After the gang finds a girl tied up in Driver’s trunk, it’s revealed that this man is far more dangerous and evil than they ever predicted. So the plot moves onto a body count flick with bad guys vs. worse guy.
NO ONE LIVES sports a really creative and cool premise. I won’t get into all the details (for fear of spoiling one of the few fun moments to be had), but there are some surprisingly decent twists here and there. The violence is usually of the brutal sort when it happens, but sadly, the movie fails to entertain or engage on a lot of levels. The acting is subpar for everyone involved. Luke Evans doesn’t seem to know which kind of performance to give here. One moment, he’s making snarky wisecracks and the next, he’s being deadly serious and intimidating, while also waxing philosophy to his would-be victim.
That’s not to say that the dialogue here gives the cast much to work with. Referring to cops as Johnny Law at one point and including such lame lines as “I am trying to help you live, but you seem to be playing the dying game.”, it’s no wonder the performances aren’t that great. This is a good idea on paper that quickly begins to go south with bad dialogue and worse acting. The story also progressively becomes even more dumb as it goes along.
To be clear, in a movie like this I don’t expect fleshed out characters. Nor do I expect clever screenwriting. In fact, I figured that the premise would be the smartest thing about the movie. What I did expect was to be entertained or on the edge of my seat and NO ONE LIVES didn’t do either of these things. It’s not just my expectations that drove me dislike the film, it’s the bad filmmaking at hand and the terrible script.
Ryuhei Kitamura has done far better things than this film. Look at his adaptation of MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN if you want to see how insanely violent, but at the same time cool and stylish, the man can get. NO ONE LIVES is painfully boring at points. Even at under 80 minutes (not counting the credits), the film becomes more tedious with every minute that passes. Slasher films can be a lot of things. They can be scary, violent, fun, and disturbing. However, boring should never be used to describe a film like this and that’s what it all comes down to. NO ONE LIVES is a boring mess that fails to deliver on a cool idea. Do yourself a favor and skip this one.