Omar Epps takes the starring role in In Too Deep, a movie about a cop who falls too far into the crime syndicate he is supposed to be uncovering.
In Too Deep has a good premise and good acting; both Omar Epps and LL Cool J deliver believable performances. Epps does a good job of keeping his real life and undercover life separate so that his character isn't just depicted as a hoodlum with a badge. LL Cool J on the other hand pulls off the "nice guy" villain routine, where most of the times his character seems nice (helping the locals pay for rent and stuff like that) and only a few times does his more violent and evil side slip out.
Unfortunately, the line is drawn there. In Too Deep is too boring, too slow, and too simple for its own good. At points this movie looks like it is trying to be an action movie of sorts, but it never carries through with what could have been a much better movie. Instead, the movie deals with Epps as a character and how he is changing psychologically and so forth. That's all good except for his character traits can't carry the movie by themselves.
Here's how I would have done the story: Epps goes undercover and finds his way into the graces of the drug ring. There he begins to realize that the man he is trying to put away does help his community a lot, but he still sticks to the plan and searches for evidence to put him under. Then the bad guy begins to give Epps gifts and other salutations that start to corrupt Epps' state-of-mind, and also Epps falls in love with a woman that is innocent but also close to the bad guy. In the end, it is a one-on-one struggle between Epps and the bad guy.
In Too Deep has about half of that. I do respect how they chose not to have Epps become corrupted at all (only his mind), but his hesitation towards the end of the movie about putting the bad guy again seems unjustified. The amount of time Epps spends undercover is also unclear, but if must have been a long time since he ends up almost shooting some other cops.
The ending is also not very exciting. Don't read on if you don't want to know what happens: The police bust into a warehouse where Epps and LL Cool J are, and they get LL Cool J to drop his weapon. Epps doesn't and he keeps his gun trained on one of the cops for what seems like forever. And this is supposed to be suspenseful. Did we really think he's going to shoot one of his own? No, of course not. Not unless the movie wanted to be darker than it intended. Furthermore, when LL Cool J discovers that Epps is a cop, he doesn't react how I wanted him to.
In Too Deep has good intentions but tried to be more than it could be, which just allowed it to fall deeper into the pit of mediocre movies.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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