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Waist Deep /

Rated: R

Starring: Tyrese Gibson, Meagan Good, Larenz Tate, The Game, H. Hunter Hall

Directed by: Vondie Curtis Hall

Produced by: Ted Field, Russell Simmons, Tony Brown, Preston L. Holmes, Joe Rosenberg, Michael Weber

Written by: Vondie Curtis Hall, Darin Scott

Distributor: Rogue Pictures (Focus)


H. Hunter Hall and Tyrese Gibson in Rogue Pictures' Waist Deep
Tyrese Gibson and Meagan Good in Rogue Pictures' Waist Deep
The Game in Rogue Pictures' Waist Deep

“Man, you guys are like the new modern-day Bonnie and Clyde! Can I get your autograph?”

     Usually, movies that are able to easily summate themselves in a single trailer-tagline turn out to be overbearing, straightforward, and preposterous. In Waist Deep’s case, all three of these adjectives may be accurate descriptions of its content, but neither its ridiculousness nor its conventionality prevents it from providing a solid entertainment experience. The storyline represents exactly what the quotation describes: a heist-film with twists. Music-turned-film-star Tyrese Gibson plays protagonist O2, an ex-con with two strikes against him. Shortly after being released from prison, his son is kidnapped and put up for ransom by a thug who believes that O2 owes him money. However, seeing as coincidence is required to get the plot off to a start, the incident just so happens to occur while he just so happens to be carrying a gun that his co-worker failed to pick up when late for work. The audience understands that O2 was only carrying it with him so that he could take it back, but he knows that his parole officer wouldn’t likely buy the story. As a result of such, O2 cannot go to the police for the $100,000 ransom that he is accused of owing. How must he handle it? Why, a series of safety-deposit-box robberies, of course! And his partner in crime? The sultry street-peddler he runs into as the incident takes place (played by Meagan Good)! As one might expect, the plot soon collapses into a madhouse of wild events.

     Okay, yeah, the premise behind Waist Deep is absolutely bonkers. But it isn’t the lame, cash-money, contemporary blaxploitation movie that one might assume it to be. Because Gibson and co-star Good are so believable in their roles, the film becomes entirely enthralling. Viewers will be able to forget the outrageousness of the plot as they quickly become captivated in the lead performances. Gibson’s work is intense beyond all description, tapping into the painful dilemma that his character faces to such a strong degree that his performance is thankfully able to overpower the flashy, close-up-ridden style of director Vondie Curtis Hall (yep, the same guy who brought us the disasterpiece that was Mariah Carey’s Glitter). Good, who beforehand was never quite able to overcome merely functioning as cheap eye-candy in a long-stretch of brain-dead roles, is scene-stealing here as she takes to the old-fashioned role of the protagonist’s sexy side-kick. Waist Deep may have been a creatively-devoid bust had it not been for its terrific acting, which allows it to seem more pleasantly old-fashioned than stale and tired.

     The movie certainly has its problems—Hall’s direction is often rather inane and the sappy conclusion to the riveting rest of the film made me feel more angry than rewarded as I left the theatre—but it is, for the most part, a thoroughly captivating thriller. As I think back on similar films released this year, I can’t help but compare the film to the conventional Michael Douglas vehicle, The Sentinel. Both pictures’ stories tread rather familiar territory, but instead of carrying a dry execution and average acting, Waist Deep works with its assets well and utilizes them to mold both an entertaining and intense diversion. It’s certainly worth the price of admission.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews (7.15.2006)

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