There are good movies that, for whatever reason, don’t make much of an impression on the public when they were released. They either bombed in the theater, or just went straight-to-dvd. This is one of them.
I’ve been a fan of LL Cool J ever since his first album came out. For a long time I’ve thought he had the potential to be a big movie star, although it’s cool that’s he’s carved out a niche as a working actor on Television. This is a film that he starred in back in 1998, although the leading man is Omar Epps. Epps plays Jeff Cole who, in the beginning of the film, has just graduated from the Police Academy, and begins working as an undercover cop in Ohio. Using the alias Jay Reid, we see him make his first drug bust, buying some crack from a local dealer (played by rapper NAS), and then begins working on a bigger sting, where his cover is blown @ the last minute, but he still is able to make the arrest. After this, his Captain (played by Stanley Tucci) gives him a new assignment, to infiltrate the organization of a big-time crimelord named Dwayne Gittens (LL), who is referred to as “GOD”, because he’s virtually untouchable.
The first time we see God is early in the film, where he confronts a man (in the man’s apartment, while the man was in the middle of having sex with a woman) that he suspects has been talking to the police about him and, despite the man’s denials, he beats him to death and then casually walks out. So, right off the bat, we’re made aware of how dangerous he is, and why Jeff needs to be careful. After getting one of God’s henchmen, Breezy (Hill Harper), to introduce him, Jeff is tested by God’s crew by being asked to perform a drive-by shooting. The way Jeff gets out of this is pretty clever, after which he is then put to work with some of God’s low-level drug dealers. During the course of the film, Jeff disobeys an order from his Captain, and is taken off the case. But manages to work his way back into God’s organization, eventually becoming one of God’s most trusted partners, but his Captain worries that Jeff is getting too far into the “Jay Ried” personality, and is having trouble distinguishing truth from fiction in his quest to take God down.
I thought the ending of the film was a little too abrupt for my tastes, but it’s mainly saved on the strength of Epps and LL in their performances. Epps does a good job showing the complexity of his character in dealing with moral gray area of working undercover, where you sometimes have to do bad things for a good cause, while LL plays the brutal crimelord well, without making him an over-the-top monster. This is a man who organizes Thanksgiving celebrations for the whole neighborhood with free food for everyone and toys for the kids, yet is also quick to torture his “best friend” (in a scene which is both chilling and humorous, involving a pool cue being stuck where the sun don’t shine, if ya know what I mean) for a perceived infraction. In one scene he’s shoving a gun in a woman’s mouth, threatening to blow her head off, and in the next he’s loving rocking his baby son in a crib. It’s a good role for him.
Screen legend Pam Grier has a minor role in the film, as a police detective, it’s also good to see her on film, although the role isn’t really essential. Nia Long is fine in her role, playing a woman that Jeff begins dating during the time he was taken off the case, although that subplot feels a bit shoe-horned into the story, and not really necessary. But, overall, I enjoyed this film, and give it TWO THUMBS UP.
In Too Deep can be purchased on Amazon.