June 29, 2006

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Waist Deep (R)
Tyrese Gibson fights the bad guys, wins the hot girl and tries to protect his son in Waist Deep, an extended video game with half-baked dialogue where the music would normally be.

O2 (Gibson) is just out of prison and trying to live the straight and narrow in one of the L.A. area's rougher neighborhoods. He has a job in security (which seems unlikely but don't get hung up on reason this early in the movie) and is trying to raise his son Junior (H. Hunter Hall) with only the lackadaisical assistance of Lucky (Larenz Tate), some gangster wannabe cousin who doesn't seem completely grown up himself. O2's baby mama has run off with some money he stole from another gangster, Meat (The Game), as we learn in one of many sad stories that fill this melodramatic tale. O2 has just finished telling his son that he'll never leave him behind and never let anything bad happen to him and all other manner of foreshadowing when the leggy Coco (Meagan Good) walks up to his car in an intersection and tries to sell him a suit. O2 doesn't buy but shortly thereafter is carjacked. He's left running through the streets, waving a gun at the car and calling for his son. Coco, he figures, is somehow a very unnecessary part of this carjacking setup and he tackles her and eventually convinces her to help him get his son back (she wants out of "the life" and, ready the hanky, she has some sob stories of her own).

Meat just happens to be the gangster behind the carjackers and when he gets Junior he decides to hold him ransom for the money he thinks O2 stole from him. O2 doesn't have the cash so he goes through a variety of machinations to get the money including some robberies of gangland establishments and a few bank robberies. There's gun pointing and tough talking and lots of linger shots of Gibson's muscular arms and Coco's hind quarters and, occasionally, some violence.

Waist Deep feels like a gangsta-rap video with all the conventions and stereotypes of that art form. It isn't any worse than most videos but it is a great deal longer than the four- or five-minute videos that could easily cover the same ground. The movie does have some extremely slick camera work, and is just as glossy when the lens is on a spectacular home in the Hollywood Hills as it is on the scene of some criminal pawn losing an arm, via machete, to Meat. The movie even verges on offering up some kind of message with a background that is constantly full of radio and TV reports about south central community activists and their demands that L.A.'s mayor take a more aggressive stance on fighting crime. Several of the scenes take place in and around peace rallies. All of this offers a sense that Waist Deep isn't just the pre-fab demographicly-targeted product it might appear to be at first glance.

Though not just dumb action, Waist Deep doesn't spend too much time on speechifying and I doubt it will find any unexpected audiences. Do you like T and A and guns and fast cars? Then you'll like Waist Deep. C+


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