In Too Deep (1999) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

In Too Deep is pitched to appeal to the intelligence level of 15-year-old boys. It’s a hollow, juvenile, second-tier production with aspirations of being Donnie Brasco for the hip-hop crowd. Omar Epps is either miscast or misdirected, possibly both, in the lead role with only LL Cool J saving the film with his menacing portrayal of the head criminal kingpin. Even the always watchable Stanley Tucci is dull and ill-used as the commanding officer of Epps’s character. Miramax studios offshoot Dimension Films released this turkey with hopes of selling both theater tickets and soundtrack albums. In hindsight, the music is more memorable than the movie that accompanied it.

Jeff Cole (Omar Epps) is a rookie cop working out of a police precinct in Cincinnati. police academy who dreams of working undercover. He’s recruited to go undercover and infiltrate NY’s most infamous crack dealer Dwayne”God” Gittens (LL Cool J). The criminal is a polarizing figure in the neighborhood. While undercover, Cole develops a close friendship with Gittens. Of course, this is worrisome to Cole’s superior (Stanley Tucci) who fears that the rookie is blurring his identities and loyalties.

There is nothing remarkable about the competent but totally clichéd story nor the flat way it’s been told and photographed. Omar Epps is lightweight in the leading role with only LL Cool J giving the film the necessary jolt of energy it badly needs. When LL is off-screen the narrative lapses into an utterly predictable pattern that becomes laborious. In Too Deep is way too shallow in terms of story and execution to be considered a worthy entry into the undercover cop sub-genre.

Director: Michael Rymer
Stars: Omar Epps, LL Cool J, Stanley Tucci

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