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August 27 - September 3, 1999

[Movie Reviews]

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In Too Deep

Michael Rymer's film plays like a low-rent remake of Donnie Brasco, or a shallower version of Bill Duke's neglected 1992 classic Deep Cover. Jeff Cole (Omar Epps), a tough young cop who grew up in the projects, volunteers to go undercover to crack Cincinnati's burgeoning inner-city drug problem. After a couple of Mickey Mouse busts, his handler (Stanley Tucci) decides he's ready for the big time and sends him after God (L.L. Cool J), Ohio's brutal but beneficent crack king. Jeff worms his way into God's organization by capping a couple of his boys and slowly becomes more of a gangsta than a gangbuster.

The problem here is that the special relationship between Jeff and God is told rather than shown. God repeatedly talks about how he trusts Jeff, but Jeff never does anything to win that trust. Unlike Donnie Brasco, who befriends, supports, and protects an aging Mafioso, Jeff doesn't have much to offer the top-of-his-game God, except maybe a trip to the slammer. Nonetheless, the pumped-up, hip-hop Yoda L.L. Cool J makes a great villain, and the murky urban cinematography adds atmosphere. It's just the script's lack of logic that prevents In Too Deep from getting deep enough to convince.

-- Nicholas Patterson
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