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(1999) (Omar Epps, LL Cool J) (R)

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Drama: An undercover cop's deep involvement with the drug lord he's trying to bust puts both him and his case in jeopardy.
Jeff Cole (OMAR EPPS) is a rookie detective who's so confident and eager to make the streets of Cincinnati safe for the local kids that he persuades his mentor, Preston Boyd (STANLEY TUCCI), to make him an undercover cop. After Cole -- who's partially assisted by surveillance officers such as Angela Wilson (PAM GRIER) -- proves his worth by busting some smalltime dealers, Boyd agrees and assigns him to a case that so far no one has been able to crack.

It concerns Dwayne Gittens (LL COOL J), a drug lord both feared by his enemies and praised by the locals for his charitable work that he's been nicknamed "God." Thus far, no one has been able to crack Gittens' inner circle that includes his right-hand man, Frisco (GANO GILLS), but soon Cole attempts to do just that.

When rumors continually circulate about Cole possibly being a cop, a lethal encounter causes Boyd to pull him off the case temporarily, giving him some time to cool down. It's then that Cole meets Myra (NIA LONG), a dancer and part-time model and the two soon fall for each other.

Yet, Cole can't get Gittens out of his mind, and after convincing several high-ranking officials that he's the only cop who can crack the case, Cole returns to Cincinnati. Getting so deep into his role with the drug lord that the lines between his real and undercover identities become blurred, Cole soon risks both his life and the successful completion of his case with every subsequent step he takes.

If they're fans of someone in the cast or of gritty, urban cop/gangster dramas they might, but this one doesn't seem to have much appeal to kids beyond that.
The reason was not available as of this review date, but we'd guess it was for brutal violence, extreme profanity/language, drug use and sexual situations.
  • OMAR EPPS plays a young undercover cop who gets in so deep with a drug lord that the lines between his real and undercover identities become blurred. As such, he shoots and/or threatens several people and nearly turns bad. Along the way, he cusses a lot, smokes, does some drugs (in the line of duty) and has sex with Myra.
  • STANLEY TUCCI plays his mentor, a no-nonsense cop who's worried about Cole and uses strong profanity.
  • LL COOL J plays the drug lord they're trying to bust, a man known for his generosity to the community, but also for his violent and lethal temper, drug dealings and profanity.
  • PAM GRIER plays another detective working with Cole.
  • GANO GILLS plays Gittens' best friend and right-hand man.
  • NIA LONG plays a dancer and part-time nude model who falls for Cole and has sex with him.


    OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10
    In what's clearly not the first and certainly not the last film to portray cops who get too involved in their undercover dealings with thugs, "In Too Deep" offers an occasionally engaging but ultimately mediocre look at such matters.

    Reportedly based on a true story, the film retreads familiar grounds and occurrences with the gung-ho cop managing to infiltrate a criminal's trusted inner circle. Not surprisingly, he then slowly but surely comes to befriend, trust and defend them, and must ultimately chose which lifestyle -- cop or criminal -- to follow.

    It's an intriguing premise, but unfortunately it's already been done in better films such as "Donnie Brasco" and "Deep Cover" just to name a few. While all of the proper elements are in place -- the eager cop, his worried mentor, a new and similarly concerned lover, and of course, the powerful and charismatic villain -- they're not always presented in a believable or credible enough way to make the film work.

    Since it unfolds in such a haphazard and noticeably episodic fashion -- with many scenes sporadically occurring and never feeling cohesive with the rest of the plot except in the most basic connection -- we never fully buy into what's happening.

    Despite the decent, but obvious and obligatory third quarter speech where the protagonist explains why he became a cop, we never sense that he's the best man for the job -- beyond him saying so. Nor do we believe that his mentor would assign the rookie to a previously unbreakable case. As such, that assignment feels too contrived instead of realistically stemming from Cole's proven track record. Had more believable and/or plausible explanations or catalysts been in place, perhaps such moments would have been more credible, but as they stand, they simply aren't.

    The same holds true for Cole being able to break into the thug's inner circle (one would think that such criminals would be on the lookout and/or more thoroughly investigate any newcomers to their fold, but hey, they're criminals, so we can't expect too much) as well as his change of heart toward them (after the main thug saves his life in yet another predictable and obligatory scene).

    That said, some of the individual scenes are intriguing and/or engaging. It's just too bad that Australian director Michael Rymer ("Allie & Me," "Angel Baby") and writers Michael Henry Brown ("Dead Presidents") & Paul Aaron (director of "A Force of One," "Maxie") couldn't maintain such interest throughout and thus make the film a more compelling whole.

    Notwithstanding the film's episodic nature and the characters' shallow development and questionable motivational behavior, the performers do the best with what they've been given to work. The charismatic Omar Epps ("The Wood," "The Mod Squad") is decent as the rookie undercover cop, but is tossed around so much between the episodic scenes that it prevents us from properly bonding and/or sympathizing with his character.

    Rap star-turned actor LL Cool J ("Deep Blue Sea," "Halloween: H20") is similarly decent portraying the thug with a charitable heart. That "twist" tactic, which is supposed to tear the protagonist and the audience between despising the drug lord and thinking, "Gee, he's not such a bad guy after all," simply doesn't work and feels the most contrived of anything that occurs (even if it may have a factual basis).

    Upon seeing the multi-talented Stanley Tucci ("The Impostors," "Big Night") as the rookie's mentor, one may question why he's appearing in a film like this. Nonetheless, and despite the weak script, he turns in an okay performance. Meanwhile, Nia Long ("Love Jones," "Soul Food") can't do much with her token, worried new lover role, and Pam Grier ("Jackie Brown" "Mars Attacks") seems as if much of her performance may have been left on the cutting room floor.

    Although the premise -- of a cop going bad due to the "system" not caring about what happens to him as long as he does his job -- is intriguing, the fragmented, episodic and often contrived moments severely affect the film's overall execution and final impression. For that reason, "In Too Deep," a film that simply retreads familiar material, rates as just a 4 out of 10.

    Here's a quick look at the content found in this R-rated drama. Profanity is extreme with more than 120 "f" words occurring, along with plenty of other profanities and colorful phrases. Violence is also extreme with people being wounded, tortured and/or killed, occasionally with quite bloody results and in scenes that may be unsettling or disturbing to some viewers.

    The violent, drug dealing criminals and occasionally the hero have bad attitudes, and the film shows some drug deals and testing of the "product." Some drinking and smoking are also present. In addition, some scenes involve sex and heavily implied male to female oral sex, while another briefly shows female nudity.

    Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, we suggest that you take a closer look at the listed content for better details of what's present in this film.

  • Working undercover, Cole buys some drugs from a corner dealer.
  • Cole drinks a beer outside while hanging out with another man.
  • We see some empty beer bottles around Cole and some people he's planning to bust.
  • Preparing to buy some cocaine while undercover, Cole snorts some to test it. Later, Cole drinks some liquor with the sellers.
  • People have drinks in a club.
  • A man smokes a joint and then hands it to Cole, but before he can relight it, the other man hits him over the head.
  • A waiter brings over some wine for Cole and Myra in a restaurant.
  • We see Cole and Gittens drinking what's presumably beer from brown paper bags in a park.
  • We see Gittens testing some coke from a large briefcase full of cocaine.
  • After Gittens and his crew presumably cut off a man's tongue (not seen), we see blood on the floor as well as on a towel that Gittens carries.
  • A man's nose is bloody after Cole punches him.
  • A man's clothed crotch is rather bloody after he's been shot there.
  • Cole has a tiny, bloody cut on the back of his head after he's hit.
  • We see a nude, tied-up man lying on a pool table. He's very bloody (especially his face) and some of his blood is on the pool table as well. Later, we see this man's dead and very bloody body in a trash dumpster.
  • We see a tiny bit of blood on a windshield after a man is smashed against it.
  • A woman's mouth is bloody after she's been beaten.
  • A man who's been shot is bloody.
  • Gittens' and his crew obviously have both for being murderous drug dealers, and some viewers may take offense at Gitten's nickname being "God."
  • Cole begins to have both as the line between his identity and that of his undercover role begin to blur. As such, he disobeys and talks back to his superior officer, holds his gun on some other cops trying to arrest him, and nearly goes completely bad by the end of the story. He also gets a bit rough with Myra after becoming jealous of her and her dance partner.
  • Various scenes listed under "Violence" may also be tense or suspenseful to some viewers.
  • Paint pellet gun: Used by Cole in teaching new cadets about the police use of guns.
  • Handguns: Used in various scenes to threaten, wound or kill people. See "Violence" for details.
  • Switchblade: Briefly used by a punk on the street to threaten Cole.
  • Phrases: "Shut the f*ck up," "I don't give a f*ck," "Cut the sh*t," "Jack sh*t," "Nigger" (said many times), "Bitch" (said many times toward both women and men), "Balls" and "Nuts" (testicles), "Stupid ass," "Punk," "Bastard," "Freaks," "Dumb ass," "Tight assed," "Shut up," "Punk ass," "Lame ass," "Sorry ass," "Cut the crap" and "Bitch ass."
  • A drug dealer has tattoos all over his neck and chest.
  • The seemingly glamorous and powerful lifestyle exhibited by Gittens could entice kids to try to have the same via selling drugs.
  • None.
  • A moderate amount of suspenseful music occurs during the film.
  • Various rap songs include multiple uses of "f" and "s" words, as well as talk of shootings, drugs, etc...
  • At least 128 "f" words (38 used with "mother"), 48 "s" words, 3 slang terms for male genitals ("d*ck"), 2 for female genitals ("p*ssy"), 15 asses, 5 damns, 3 hells, 1 S.O.B., 1 crap, 3 uses of "G-damn," several of "God" (but also used as a character's nickname), and 1 use each of "For God's sakes," "Jesus Christ," "My God" and "Oh my God" as exclamations.
  • We hear some sexual sounds and then see a woman's pleasured reactions to what a man is doing at her crotch underneath the covers (heavily suggested oral sex). They're interrupted before anything else happens, however, by Gittens and his crew. When they say that they've heard this man is good with his tongue, he replies that he's got to what it takes to please the ladies. After Gittens and his crew cut off this man's tongue (not seen), Gittens tells the women that she should pick up his tongue and finish the job (oral sex) herself.
  • As a man tells Cole that he should get busy having a family, Cole responds that first he's going to get busy with several hundred women.
  • A young woman shows some cleavage.
  • As Gittens talks to a former hooker about helping her, he tells her that if she gets an itch, he'll scratch it. She then says that she doesn't do that anymore.
  • At a photo shoot, we see Myra as a nude model in the shadows and see her breasts in silhouette. Moments later, we see a brief glimpse of her fully visible, bare breasts.
  • As Preston asks Cole about Myra, the latter says, "So you're asking, are we sleeping together?"
  • We see some instances of Cole and Myra kissing/making out and then see her on top of his lap as they sit upright on a bed (as seen from behind him where the sheets and his body cover any nudity).
  • Gittens puts his gun in a woman's mouth (after he's beaten her) and briefly runs it back and forth (like oral sex).
  • After Cole sees Myra with her dancing partner, Cole asks, "Are you sleeping with him?"
  • Cole smokes a few times, as do some miscellaneous characters.
  • None.
  • The life of an undercover cop and whether they're used and/or discarded by the "system" while trying to nab the criminals.
  • Drug dealers and their seemingly glamorous and powerful lifestyle (that may be attractive to kids).
  • Cole and three of Gittens' thugs do a drive-by shooting where Cole fires many shots at a guy running down the street (but purposefully misses him).
  • A punk on the street threatens Cole with a switchblade.
  • Gittens and his crew drag a man from his bed, and forcibly take him into the bathroom where we here struggling and his screams. When Gittens comes back out, we see blood on the floor and a towel and Gittens implies that they cut off the man's tongue (for presumably talking to the cops).
  • The mother of a drug family grabs Cole by the crotch (thinking he's wired there), and he then gets into a fight with her sons. After some struggling, one of the sons fires a shot at him and Cole finally hits him, grabs the gun and aims it at the rest.
  • Gittens punches one of his followers for not holding a punching bag still.
  • Gittens pushes a much smaller man away by his face.
  • A man kicks a woman to the street.
  • A man punches Cole in the gut and then holds a gun on him. Cole then grabs that man, wrestles with him and the gun goes off, hitting another man in the crotch. Cole then shoots the other man dead.
  • Cole then visits one of Gittens' crew and holds his gun on him, looking for answers.
  • In anger, Cole violently knocks over some items.
  • Gittens implies that he had the survivor of the two man attack on Cole killed.
  • A man hits Cole over the head with a bottle and then holds a gun on him. Others then show up and grab this man and repeatedly punch and kick him. Cole then gets up and kicks this man in the face.
  • We see a nude, tied-up man lying on a pool table. He's very bloody (especially his face) and some of his blood is on the pool table as well. Gittens then holds a gun to this man's face, strikes him with a pool cue, and then takes another one and jams it up the man's rear end (not seen, but there's no doubt about it). Later, we see this man's dead and very bloody body in a trash dumpster.
  • Gittens takes a woman with whom he's angry, throws her to the street and then grabs her by the hair. Cole then takes the man with her, struggles with and punches him and then repeatedly smashes him against a car. Gittens then takes that man, puts his arm into an open car door and then slams that door against his arm. He then takes his gun and puts it in the woman's mouth.
  • After Cole is a bit rough with Myra some cops pull up to see what's going on. Cole then pulls his gun on them, but they spray mace (or something similar) in his face, smash him into their car, hit him with a baton and then struggle with him on the ground.
  • A man prepares to shoot Cole but Gittens shoots that other man first. Another man is shot and the machine gun he's holding briefly goes off. Cole and Wilson then hold guns on each other.

  • Reviewed August 5, 1999 / Posted August 25, 1999

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