In Too Deep

"OK"

In Too Deep Review


Not a bad idea, making a ghetto gangland rehash of "Donnie Brasco," that surprisingly powerful Johnny Depp-Al Pacino picture from 1997 about an FBI man deep undercover in the mob.

A story about a cop losing himself in the ambitious, low-level mafioso character he creates as his cover, that flick followed its hero's discovery of the gray areas between right and wrong, and watched his loyalty split between duty and friendship as he immersed himself in mob life.

"In Too Deep" is a strikingly similar yarn, set within a powerful Cincinnati street gang run by a bad-ass cocaine kingpin who calls himself God (LL Cool J). The cop, played here by Omar Epps ("The Mod Squad"), is plucked straight out of the academy for this infiltration assignment, based on his background as a street tough and the fact that he's new to Cinci, so there's no one to blow his cover.

He rises rapidly through God's organization, before long becoming his right hand man (where are all this guy's lieutenants?), all the while making weekly reports to his police captain (Stanley Tucci).

But while Epps is a talented actor and has a valuable and innate ability to put across hardness and concern in a single facial expression, his inner turmoil never comes across as clearly as it should. The conflict -- which is ostensibly the crux of the story -- is taken for granted. It never feels like he really is "In Too Deep."

Several of the story elements feel forced, too -- like a throw-away romantic subplot that develops when the captain pulls Epps out for some forced R and R. He meets a pretty artist (Nia Long, "Soul Food") at a community college where he's taking photography classes, but we hardly see her again, except as a reminder of how far he's stepped outside his real life in infiltrating God's ranks.

Even so, director Michael Rymer ("Angel Baby") does weave an effective tapestry of three-dimensional characters (LL gives a surprisingly layered and almost sympathetic performance as the drug lord) and very strong imagery. He employs over-exposed urban and Caribbean colors that give the film a grainy, light-and-dark contrast and he subtly manipulates the audience with images that shake Epps into remembering who he really is.

In one scene, Rymer cuts to a child on a Big Wheel in the middle of a violent confrontation. In another God introduces Epps to a beautiful girl who we see again later, dazed and emaciated after she's become one of his addicts. Epps also has a moving monologue about memorizing the names of all the kids killed in his neighborhood growing up.

But to maintain his hero status, Epps is never shown doing the kinds of things he?d have to do earning his stripes with the gang. His advancement through the ranks and his kinship with God come too quickly and easily to be entirely believable. It is presumed the audience will recognize the plot and just follow along as the movie skips the kind of scenes that might have better established the danger and adversity of being that far undercover.

Green-lighting this passing-grade variation on a theme was a shrewd move for Dimension Films, Miramax's genre division. It has a proven storyline, a good cast and an urban target audience that probably won't be making comparisons to the deeper and more genuine "Donnie Brasco." But for those who have seen both, "In Too Deep" just can't measure up.



In Too Deep

Facts and Figures

Run time: 95 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 25th August 1999

Box Office Worldwide: $14M

Distributed by: Dimension Films

Production compaines: Suntaur Entertainment Company

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 36%
Fresh: 20 Rotten: 35

IMDB: 6.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Jeff Cole / J. Reid, as Dwayne Gittens / God, as Myra, as Preston D'Ambrosio, as Breezy T., as Daniel Connelly, as Det. Angela Wilson, as Wesley, David Patrick Kelly as Rick Scott, as Latique

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

The 2012 Canadian comedy Goon was one of those surprising little films that snuck up...

Detroit Movie Review

Detroit Movie Review

After The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal reteam to...

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Good news: Steven Soderbergh's well-publicised retirement from directing only lasted about four years. He's back...

American Made Movie Review

American Made Movie Review

An enjoyably freewheeling tone and Tom Cruise's star wattage combine to make this an entertaining...

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

It's been a decade since Al Gore's wake-up-call documentary won the Oscar. And here he...

Advertisement
The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

It really doesn't matter that this movie is utterly ridiculous, because the central pairing of...

Final Portrait Movie Review

Final Portrait Movie Review

A relaxed, amusing true story about noted Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti, this sharply...

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.