TV Watchin': In Too Deep
There has been an influx of Black Cinema on cable recently, and I have taken full advantage of rewatching films, something I normally don’t do. A lot of these films are from the 90’s, and I marvel at how spoiled we were then. We were used to seeing Black films in the theatres, and weren’t so thirsty that mediocre Tyler Perry films would be the only game in town. Most of these films would do very well today in this market, and would definitely make more money and get better reviews than before. Unfortunately, 1999’s “In Too Deep” is not in that realm.
Let me begin that organically, this film had a few too many superficial distractions, ones that Rocky Horror focuses a bit too much on–namely Omar Epps’ huge frog eyes and the massively bad wigs he wore, from bright red nappy fro, to some kind of semi-dread twist lacefront, all looking fake as hell.
But I digress. The plot is this:
Rookie officer Jeff Cole (Omar Epps) works his way up the ladder as an undercover officer. He goes undercover into a large drug empire run by a man who calls him self God (LL Cool J). Acting as J. Reid, Cole works his way up the ranks and soon becomes close friends on the business and personal side with God. Cole’s superior officer fears that he has gone too far in and may not be able to go back to his real self.
Now mind you, this rookie has done nothing to prove, right out of the academy, that he can go undercover and get close to the number one drug gangster in Cincinnati, except yell at folks saying “You know I am the only one that can do this!” This seems to sum up the whole of Epps’ acting style; whenever he feels anger, or hurt, or fear, or whatever, because I can’t really tell from his face what he’s feeling, he gets realclose in someone’s face and shouts them down. In Hollywood, this device seems to work, cause no one seems to question him about anything, ever, except for his love interest–Nia Long named Myra (?!), who ain’t going out like that. When he tries to strongarm her, she bounces, and with her goes any ties to a movie with real actual depth. On another superficial sidenote, her make-up is truly on point.
Anyway, Epps gets in good with the gangster “God”, LL Cool J, (who does just a serviceable acting job), and figures that God is not such a half bad dude, cause he gives block parties and gifts at Christmas to the neighborhood poor folkses (what a bad guy with nugget of a heart movie cliche’!), and drives around with his infant son in a carseat in the back of the car. This, despite the fact that he calls himself “God” (a serious red flag), beats people half the death in front of said infant son, and rapes his right hand man of many years with a poolstick, then kills him, then put him in a dumpster naked because he heard that he flirted once with his baby mama. That’s just a minor flaw anyone could have, yes?
That is my biggest problem with this film–the situations are so disingenuous, and to be honest, downright stupid. You never believe Omar Epps’ performance no matter which side of the law he’s on–good or bad. Epps had the acting range of a spoon, and as a result, you don’t really care what happens to him or anyone else. Well, except for Pam Grier, who was lookin’ pretty foxy in this film. She is one of Epps’ police associates, and trust, this would have been a much, much, better film if they would have focused on her for more than 5 minutes. Catch this one on cable if you can’t sleep, or are inebriated with friends, so you can catch parts with Hill Harper in a bleached blond fro, Mya, Wee-Bey from the Wire, Aunjanue Ellis, Sticky Fingaz, and Stanley Tucci phoning it in. Any other situation is a waste of 2 hours of your life.
This film was actually given some semi-decent reviews back in the day; the only explanation I have for that is the infamous YT guilt kicking in. Here is a small part of the movie, I couldn’t find a trailer…be forewarned; this part makes the movie look much, much more interesting than it actually is: