Sometimes a film does not have to be the greatest in its genre in order to be entertaining. The audience can just sit by and not have to worry about the level of the film or how realistic the story may be; you just watch. With this sort of flick it helps a lot if there is a hook, something to draw the audience in. In the case of ‘Waist Deep’ it draws on a worse case nightmare that could actual happen. Carjacking reports are rising. It has to be terrible to be pulled out of your car by a strange that then drives off right in front of your eyes. Your car is your transportation, your freedom and no it is gone. The one thing that could make this plunge into the depths of the horrible is if you child was in the back seat as the car drove off.
The film doesn’t waste time with any preliminaries, it gets right to it. O2 (Tyrese Gibson) is in the car with his son Junior (Henry Hunter Hall) when all of a sudden they are waylaid by thugs who steal the car with Junior still in the backseat. Even though O2 is recently paroled he managed to get a job as a security guard and just happens to have his gun with him. O2 sets out running after the car which results in the body count increasing barely after the credits have rolled. It couldn’t be worse for O2. As a felon with two strikes against him already California’s law would send him back to prison for a long time. Having a very public shoot out is not exactly something that will go over well with the police or the parole board. O2’s only connection to who has his son is a street hustler named Coco (Meagan Good) who was supposed to distract O2 during the robbery. O2 is not much for word play and forces Coco at gunpoint to help him get to the thieves and get his son back. Junior was in the car because O2’s cousin Lucky (Larenz Tate) once again flaked out and didn’t pick the boy up at school. This is also the convenient reason why O2 had the gun on him; he had to leave work before his shift replacement showed up. Of course bailing on his job is not exactly paramount on his mind at the moment. As it turns out Junior is being held by a sinister gang boss Meat (The Game) who demands $100,000 for the return of the boy. Now where a soon to be out of work ex-con supposed to get such a sum is really not germane here but it does provide some rational for O2 to go on a robbery spree taking down a few gang related businesses. Together O2 and Coco rob rival gangs getting them to turn on each other. The clock is ticking since Meat has given O2 only 48 hours to raise the cash. This at least drives the action at the required fast pace.
This film is only a step or two above the ‘black exploitation’ flicks of the seventies. There is an attempt to offer the audience some rational explanation for the action but over-all the plot is almost non existent. Lets face it with an action thriller like this you are really not watching it for a character arc or subtle thematic nuance. What the audience wants with a film like this is action and right from the start we get it in good measure. The dialogue is overly laden with words that appear to have come from some urban dictionary of profanity, pejoratives and slang. The robberies are more than contrived; they are almost at the point of being comical. The level of intelligence displayed by the thugs being robbed is somewhere around the level of one cell life forms. There is a tenuous past between Meat and O2 that is the reason why the $100,000 was demanded but the film doesn’t overly focus on the past. There is a certain urban ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ feel to the relationship between O2 and Coco as they find love of sorts between reloading the guns and the plethora of bodies that pile up. As worried as O2 is about Junior he certainly can find time to get busy with the lovely Coco. The one almost mainstream twist here is how they set the numerous gangs against each other. This gives some out to O2 as other gangs are being blamed for the rip offs.
Director Vondie Curtis-Hall has been an actor for decades now and is currently striking out on the other side of the camera. Most of his credits are with hit television shows like ER and the Sopranos. He even directed an episode of the late, lamented cult classic Firefly. Unfortunately, this film does go too far to distance himself from his most notorious work, Glitter. The saving grace of his direction here is he does not seem to take things to seriously. He knows that this is an action flick and plays some of the scenes apparently for laughs. It is a little disconcerting how he uses handheld cameras for a jerky feel that will give some watching a dire need for some Dramamine. He does pace the film well and consistently for the genre. There is very little to get in the way of the gunfights and that is what the film is about after all.
Tyrese Gibson has distinguished himself with his work in such mainstream films as Annapolis and the remake of Flight of the Phoenix. Here, he puts his dramatic skills on hold to keep up with the demands of pure action. He holds the film together better than most actors could have done. He is believable most of the time as the concerned father. Gibson brings the right balance of revenge to the plate here has he goes after his old nemesis, Meat. As a female lead in an action flick Meagan Good holds her own. She was incredible in the neo-noir film Brick but here is given little more to do than look good. It is a shame since this is a talented actress. She has chemistry with her leading man but it is difficult to get across amidst the near constant gunfire. Hip-hop star ‘The Game’ is new to film but he does get the pure evil villain down perfectly.
Universal has put together a very good DVD to present this film. There are both Pan & Scan and widescreen versions but why anyone would want a full screen version of a broadly done action flick is beyond me. The 2.35 anamorphic video is without any visible flaw or defect. The color palette has been oversaturated perhaps to make the film come across as hyper-realistic. The contrast holds together nicely. The Dolby 5.1 audio will give a real workout to your speakers. The channel separation of the front speakers is excellent. The rear speakers work with the sub woofer to shake the room with each pop of a gun or explosion. There is a good amount of extras provided to give a little behind the scenes look at the production. In the featurette ‘Anatomy of a Scene’ how the carjacking was orchestrated is shown in detail. This also features short interviews with the director and cinematographer Shane Hurlbut. ‘Drive By Filmaking’ looks at the difficulties inherent in filming fast paces car chases. There are also a few deleted scenes and outtakes as well as the required music video. This is the kind of movie you can have fun with when you have some friends over for beer and pizza. Just turn off your higher reasoning areas of the brain and get into the action.