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Click for full size poster

In Too Deep

Starring Omar Epps, LL Cool J, Stanley Tucci,
Nia Long and Pam Grier
Screenplay by Paul Aaron and Michael Henry Brown
Directed by Michael Rymer
Rated [R], 106 minutes

Cranky, being way too Caucasian to make head or tails of fifty percent of the street language or rap music of In Too Deep is pleased to report that, ignorant git that I've been called, I still managed to follow a solid story and good performances. If the flick works for street ignorant Cranky, it may do gangbusters for those that walk the walk.

It isn't that we haven't seen an "undercover cop goes too far undercover" kind of story before. We have -- and, no, I'm not gonna call In Too Deep a black [insert the name of you know what here], which is what all the other critics I know were saying when we walked out of the screening room. What I wrote in the first paragraph is both endorsement and warning. I trust y'all to know our tastes run the same way.

Let's cover the story first and then I'll get to the good stuff. Raised in the public housing projects of Cleveland Ohio, brand spanking new Cincinnati cop Jeff Cole (Omar Epps) is determined to clean the streets by bringing down the bad guys one on one, as an undercover cop. Top Cop Preston D'Ambrosio (Stanley Tucci) is wary, but gives Cole the shot. With a new identity, "J. Reid" a badass drug dealer from Akron works his way through the street scum, earns his chops and, after two years, a name in the department. After two years on the street, "J" manages an introduction to the man who runs this world, Dwayne Gittens aka "God" (LL Cool J).

To put it nicely, God is a baad mothershutyourmouth, and not in the John Shaft sense at all. The slightest suspicion of a double cross will bring the Hand of God down on the fool -- talk to the cops and lose your tongue. Mess with his lady and, well, it isn't pleasant. Get to be his best friend and, well, don't expect any favors. In Too Deep exhibits a knowledge of all the codes and tests found in these new crime families. It is, after all, based on true stories told by undercover cops. "J" must find a way to pass his tests without breaking the law, which is a good trick when the first one is to kill some lowlife punk in a drive-by. How "J" manages to pass the tests without breaking the law is an interesting sight to see.

This story ain't all sweetness and light. "J" will do illegal things. Bullets and blood will fly and flow and "J" will have to be pulled from the streets to get his head straight. This allows the introduction of Myra (Nia Long), the love interest and a vital element needed to keep this cop on the straight and narrow.

Of course, if it all came down to one woman or $11 million dollars cash and control of all the drug sales in a major metropolis, which would you pick? Temptation is always the key in movies like this, and this one lays out the pros and cons in fairly clear terms.

And all us old fogeys were just tickled to death to see Pam Grier in a solid supporting role, as one of the good guys who backs up "J".

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to In Too Deep, he would have paid...


I'm kinda torn on this one, so I put it dead center of the rating scale. Not so much as a recommendation to wait for pay per view, moreso pointing you back to the very first paragraph. If you fit the demo or cultural target, you'll get more out of this flick than I did. That I followed it, and enjoyed it, is the best thing I can say.

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