In Too Deep

Directed by Michael Rymer
Starring: Omar Epps, LL Cool J, Stanley Tucci, Nia Long, Pam Grier.
MPAA Rating: R for brutal violence, strong sexuality, language and drug content.

Review by Matt Heffernan
September 1, 1999

Every time a screenwriter sits down to write a cop movie, he must know all the tired conventions from all the cop movies ever made. Yet, when he writes his original work, he still adheres to those conventions. He chooses to take the beaten path, even though he could blaze a new trail. Why does it happen? Here we see another potentially great film get sucked into the same trap.

Omar Epps plays a young cop named Jeff Cole who, upon graduation from the academy, requests undercover work in narcotics. He grew up in housing projects, and can fit in with the drug scene. After proving himself with small-time pushers, he is given the ultimate assignment: bring down God.

No, not Him. The biggest drug lord in town is Duane Keith Gittens (LL Cool J), who uses "God" for his street name. Jeff goes undercover as "J. Reid" and gets inside God's operation. His captain (Stanley Tucci) gets nervous that he is getting in too deep. Jeff is determined to bring down the organization at any cost, even to himself.

LL Cool J takes a 180 degree turn from his role in Deep Blue Sea, where he played a preacher. In Too Deep may have him playing God, but this character is a ruthless criminal mastermind. Epps also makes a big leap from The Wood to play a very believable cop.

The film starts out so well, but one cliché after another keeps appearing, and its potential for originality disappears. They could have had an interesting variation on Donnie Brasco; it was also based on a true story. The film is still enjoyable, with a few exciting action sequences, but there was just barely enough story to fill 95 minutes.

Perhaps the reason that good ideas like In Too Deep don't get realized is fear. It could be the fear of failing to meet expectations, but that is missing the point. If everything happens the way I expect it to, there is no reason to watch the film. I could just interpolate the whole thing from watching the previews.

For more information, go to the Internet Movie Database:
In Too Deep (1999)

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In Too Deep (1999) -- VHS
In Too Deep (1999) -- DVD
In Too Deep: Original Soundtrack -- Compact Disc (edited)
In Too Deep: Original Soundtrack -- Compact Disc (explicit lyrics)
In Too Deep: Original Score -- Compact Disc Home
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Review © 1999 Matt Heffernan