Jackie (Traci Lords) is a single mom and a photographer who loses custody of her son when she’s framed for cocaine possession by a corrupt cop named Eddie Martin (Robert Miano). Jackie is released from jail early, on the condition that she do 400 hours of community service. Specifically, she is ordered to take pictures of the LAPD doing a good job and not killing people. Captain Ralph Phibbs (Richard Roundtree) makes it very clear that she is to take only positive pictures of the LAPD or she could go back to jail and end up never seeing her son again.
However, even while doing community service, Jackie’s a rebel. She decides to follow around Eddie and get pictures of him engaged in the same type of corruption that got her sent to prison. Jackie manages to get Eddie on film murdering a pimp but, instead of going to the authorities, she wants to use the picture to blackmail Eddie into clearing her name. Eddie, who has a cocaine problem, doesn’t respond well to being blackmailed and he decides to get the negatives and kill Jackie, not necessarily in that order.
While Eddie’s trying to kill Jackie, Frank (Jeff Conaway), another cop, is trying to maneuver his way into Jackie’s bed. At first, Jackie doesn’t trust Frank because he’s a cop but then Frank takes her on a date to a domestic disturbance call and soon, she’s falling for him. Frank, though, might not be as trustworthy as he seems.
This is one of the many direct-to-video thrillers in which Traci Lords appeared in the years immediately following her forced retirement from the adult film industry. As was often the case with her 90s films, Lords is the best thing about A Time To Die. In this film, Traci Lords again shows that she was a good actress. Unfortunately, because of her past, she never got the type of roles that she really deserved. In A Time To Die, she is believably tough and she makes the clunkiest dialogue credible. Unfortunately, the other members of the cast don’t try anywhere near as hard as Lords does to bring some sort of reality to their stereotypical roles. Conaway and Miano both sleepwalk through their roles while Richard Roundtree is reduced to getting mad and doing a lot of shouting. Though the plot is sometimes predictable and it doesn’t take a psychic to know that Eddie is eventually going to go after Jackie’s son, the story is still interesting enough to hold your attention while your watching the movie.
A Time To Die is an occasionally interesting B-thriller that is elevated by the efforts of Traci Lords.