This film seems to have been intended as a gritty street drama
about the inflated crime rate in New Orleans.
Death Toll is atrociously bad, and it's not really possible to
point to a single responsible element. It's just bad from top to
bottom. Begin with the script. There are all sorts of conflicts
established: the police versus the drug lords; gang vs gang; wife vs
mistress; mayoral candidate vs mayor; and the time-worn feds vs local cops. Most of these conflicts are mentioned briefly and left
unresolved. Not only is the script disjointed and arbitrary, but it seems to end at
some random point. One of the feds is shown to be corrupt and
decadent, but that storyline is left hanging. The mayor's electoral
opponent is introduced, appears in two scenes, then is dropped. The
lead cop's wife is jealous of his beautiful female partner, and that
ends unresolved. En route to the inconclusive ending, several scenes
have absolutely nothing to do with the rest of it and could easily be
dropped, although the entire film is only 81 minutes long
The only nudity, for example, comes from Christina Boutte, who
plays one of two girls having a three-way with a corrupt federal
agent. The nudity is completely gratuitous in that the scene is
completely stranded, and almost completely unrelated to the film. It
has nothing to do with any scene that comes before or after. The girls
appear in no other scenes, and the agent's relationship with them is
never used in any way to develop any subsequent scenes. One presumes
that the entire scene was tacked on to give the film some bare flesh.
In addition to the three-way sex scene, there are several scenes with
unnecessary or undeveloped characters, and there are several puzzling
monologue scenes with DMX, all of which consist of him standing alone
in a room and spouting philosophy to the camera.
And the script is one of the film's strengths.
The direction is no better than you could do with your home
camcorder, a few of your friends, and the free version of Microsoft
Moviemaker. The sound is filled with echoes, and the conversations are
sometimes incomprehensible, a problem compounded by a musical score
which sometimes drowns out the dialogue. Of course, it's just as well
that you can't hear the actors because when you can hear them you
cringe in embarrassment. The only performer in the movie who delivers
a professional performance is Lou Diamond Phillips, and you tend to
feel empathy for him because he must have realized that nobody else in
the cast could deliver even a single simple line credibly, and that
made it hard for him to do his best when interacting with them. I
wonder how long he was involved with this project before he started
wondering if he could break his contract. I'll bet LDP had a long
heart-to-heart with his agent after this one.
Purely an amateur effort. The worst film I've seen in years.