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Waist Deep
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Waist Deep In the Big Bloody"
4 stars

Just about a week or so ago, I found myself in the odd position of defending “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift” as being a thoroughly idiotic and thoroughly entertaining shot of B-movie bliss that packed more disreputable fun into its 105 minutes than the vast majority of the other summer blockbusters combined. Now I find myself in the even odder position of defending the new urban thriller “Waist Deep,” a film that somehow manages to be even more idiotic and entertaining than “Tokyo Drift.” This is a contemporary riff on the old blaxsploitation films of the 1970's that is so straightforward and non-self-conscious that I can easily imagine it unspooling at the long-defunct Woods Theater in downtown Chicago to a loud and appreciative audience finally getting a chance to relish a film where the action on-screen was more interesting than the action in the aisles.

Tyrese Gibson stars as O2, a former thug who has just been paroled after six years in prison and who is trying to make a fresh start for the sake of adorable six-year-old son Junior (H. Hunter Hall). In case you were wondering about his somewhat odd moniker, he reveals that in his criminal days, he received the name because was so fast and quick that he would disappear “like oxygen”–I’m not quite sure where the “2" came from, though I suspect he got tired of people asking to see his “O face.” Anyway, O2 is now on the straight and narrow and when he runs late to pick up Junior after school, he makes a solemn vow that he will always come back for the kid and seals it with a pinky swear. Maybe ten seconds after that vow of eternal devotion, O2 gets carjacked and while he manages to gun most of the perpetrators down in the middle of the street, one eventually gets away with Junior sleeping in the back seat. It turns out that this was no random crime–Junior was taken by local gang kingpin Meat (The Game), a former cohort of O2's who is convinced that O2 has hidden $100,000 that belongs to him and if he doesn’t get the money by Friday, he will kill Junior. (I’d just like to point out that O2 could learn a thing or two about tough-guy nicknames from Meat–I daresay that none but the most foolhardy of you would want to mess with a guy known as Meat unless you were absolutely sure it was the “Bat Out of Hell” guy and even then, you might want to think twice about it.)

Desperate and unable to go to the police for various reasons, O2 enlists Coco (Megan Good), the hooker-with-a-chest-of-gold who served as a distraction for the carjacking, to help him on his plan to raise the funds to get Junior back. Since Meat is currently involved in a turf war with Coco’s violent pimp, the duo rob a safehouse belonging to each one of them and claim they represent the other–the plan is to ignite a full-scale battle between the two factions that will leave the two of them free and clear. When that doesn’t prove to be profitable enough, they rob some safety deposit boxes in a bank heist spree that turns the two into minor media sensations. Unfortunately, O2's cousin Lucky (Larenz Tate) winds up screwing things up and the whole saga ends in a ballet of blood, bullets and screeching tires, topped off with the kind of sentimental heart-to-heart conversations that can only be had during a high-speed car chase while being pursued by approximately the same number of cops that finally apprehended the Blues Brothers. Oh, I almost forgot to mention that all of this takes place as an extended “Save the Streets” rally against urban violence is going on, leading to the surreal sight of a dramatic speech decrying the circle of brutality in the foreground while a guy is being savagely beaten just behind them with no one apparently noticing.

“Waist Deep” doesn’t really have much in the way of originality going for it–although it bills itself as a modern-day “Bonnie & Clyde” (O2 and Coco are even dubbed that at one point by an admiring gas-station attendant in a scene that tragically rings false because few pump jockeys his age are likely to have ever heard of “Bonnie & Clyde,” let alone know enough about it to make the reference), the film also begs, borrows and outright steals from the likes of “Sugarland Express,” “Yojimbo” and even “The Shawshank Redemption,” to name a few. And yet, while the film may be little more than a collection of familiar cliches, director Vondie Curtis-Hall (making his first feature film since helming the infamous Mariah Carey disaster “Glitter”) handles the material and the actors with such fierce energy and ambition that you hardly care that you have seen all of it before and every once in a while, he throws us a curve ball that forces viewers to sit up and take notice. Take the scene in which he introduces the character of Meat by having him slap around an underling who has crossed him somehow. Familiar enough, except that here, the twist is that Meat is slapping the underlying with the poor guy’s own severed arm. I don’t know if it was Curtis-Hall or co-writer Darin Scott who came up with that particular notion but I certainly hope that whomever did took the time to pat themselves on the back and light a cigar to commemorate a job well done–if that scene had appeared thirty years ago, the crowd at the Woods would have gone berserk with delight at its sheer audacity.

As I said last week in my “Tokyo Drift” review, I am kinda, sorta recommending “Waist Deep” even though I know full well that most right-thinking people (including those of you reading this) are likely to avoid it on the assumption that I am just another dopey white guy from the suburbs getting all jazzed up on blaxsploitation trash. That may well be true but it doesn’t take away from the fact that it is the rare summer film that actually delivers what it promises–90-odd minutes of lurid trash with hardly a single socially redeeming moment to be had. It even takes the time to illustrate some of my all-time favorite action movie cliches. Never associate with a guy who calls himself Lucky. No matter how pressing the time frame or how many people are pursuing you, there is always time for a quickie with the sexy dame. Most importantly, a gun can be shot over and over without reloading and it will never run out of bullets unless it is absolutely necessary to the plot. Oh, there is one final cliche but since it involves the ending of the film–a bit so cheesily over-the-top that it must be seen to be disbelieved–I wouldn’t dream of spoiling it for any of you inspired by this review to seek “Waist Deep” out.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=14722&reviewer=389
originally posted: 06/25/06 03:54:37
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User Comments

8/25/20 morris campbell boring 1 stars
10/19/06 action movie fan exciting good story but deminse of meat too easy 4 stars
8/24/06 Zaw a lots of plot holes but its OK I guess. Same old stuff 3 stars
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  23-Jun-2006 (R)
  DVD: 10-Oct-2006



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