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Waist Deep

Waist Deep is just another one of those middle-of-the-road action flicks. You know the type, painfully formulaic but with some decent shoot-outs and plenty of pretty—and ugly—people to gawk at. It shouldn"t amount to much, though.


The film follows the same tired action genre step by step. Ex-con and single dad O2 (Tyrese Gibson) is trying to go straight for the sake of his young son, Junior. But when the kid is kidnapped in what seems to be a typical carjacking, O2 has to pull out all the stops to get him back. Turns out O2 had some nefarious dealings with a gang overlord named Big Meat (The Game), who likes to hack off people"s body parts with a machete. And now Meat wants some payback, taking for ransom the only thing O2 cares about in the entire world [sniffle]. So what"s a guy to do? Pit rival gang leaders against each other, hook up with a beautiful street hustler (Meagan Good), rob safety deposit boxes and get caught in an extended car chase, that"s what. ''It's either all or nothing,'' realizes O2. Very prophetic.


Waist Deep has got some great character names--Meat, O2, Coco, Lucky, Junior. Too bad most of the performances can"t live up to them. Tyrese (Four Brothers) does try his best, though, as the hunky O2, making a convincing, albeit a tad stiff, attempt at playing a father who"s whole life is his son. Good (Roll Bounce) gets to wear tight sexy clothes and strut around as Coco, O2"s accomplice and eventual love interest, as they rob banks Bonnie and Clyde style. Larenz Tate (Crash) plays Lucky, O2"s unreliable cousin, who actually isn"t lucky at all, caught between a rock and hard place. And then there"s Meat, played by big-time rapper The Game in his feature debut. With a battered face and covered in tattoos, The Game certainly looks like one mean badass, wielding a mad machete. Thankfully, he doesn"t have to do much more than that. Here"s a few words of advice to would-be actors who want to play effective bad guys: Less is more.


It"s movies like these that really give South Central L.A. a bad rep—shoot-outs in the middle of the street in broad daylight, the carjacks, the depravity, the sad stories of little kids getting shot. It"s not exactly a warm and fuzzy place. Of course, actor-turned-director/co-writer Vondie Curtis-Hall (best known for his numerous TV guest spots), doesn"t want it to be, showing the grit in all its glory and collecting a cast from the area, who could lend some credibility to the surroundings. But Hall needs a few more lessons in how to craft a well-thought action movie. The script is hackneyed beyond the usual, taking bits not only from Bonnie and Clyde, but also Thelma and Louise, Boyz N the Hood--and even a little Shawshank Redemption. Hall"s camerawork is also too frenetic at times, almost dizzyingly so, with unnecessary close ups and choppy sequences. That isn"t to say some of the gun play and car chases aren"t exciting enough. There just seems to be a lack of experience overall.

Bottom Line rated this film 1 1/2 stars.