Monday, June 19, 2017

Waist Deep

1.5/4

Starring: Tyrese Gibson, Meagan Good, Game, Larenz Tate, Henry Hunter Hall

Rated R for Strong Violence and Pervasive Language

When did action movies stop being fun?  When I was growing up,  I would watch movies like "Speed," "True Lies," and "The Rock."  They were just as violent as "Waist Deep," if not more so, but they were fun.  There was joy in their construction.  They were entertaining.  "Waist Deep" wants to be an action movie with a social ax to grind, which is fine by me.  It's difficult, but it can be done (see "Set it Off" for an example).  But this movie has a flat screenplay, lousy performances and a director that tries in vain to salvage what cannot be saved.  This movie is a waste of time and money.

O2 (Gibson) is an ex-con trying to get his life back on track.  He's been out on parole for a month, and is determined to make a better life for himself and his son Junior (Hall).  However, after his drug-addled brother Lucky (Tate) chooses to get high rather than pick up Junior from school, O2 has to take off work to take his son home.  That's when he's carjacked with Junior inside.  Now, O2, Lucky and a street hustler named Coco (Good) have to band together to set two drug lords against each other and rescue Junior.

I mentioned "Speed" earlier, and in a strange way it's an apt comparison.  Both are simple stories that succeed or fail based whether or not the director can keep the adrenaline high enough for the audience to not realize how silly everything is.  That's the difference between "Speed" and "Waist Deep."  The 1994 sleeper hit is just as dumb, but a hundred times more fun because Jan de Bont kept things movie with breathless energy.  Vondie Curtis-Hall is without a clue.  He resorts to the old standbys of directors who haven't the slightest idea of how to make an action movie: shaking the camera, frantic cutting, and ostentatious camera tricks.  Instead of creating the desired adrenaline, he's only highlighting how lame the movie is.

The performances leave a lot to be desired.  Tyrese Gibson, never an actor with a lot of range, has one mode for his performance: dead serious.  He plays the role like he's Hamlet, which would be unintentionally hilarious if it wasn't so boring.  His co-star Meagan Good is awful.  Rarely is she able to speak her lines convincingly.  Larenz Tate isn't as irritating as usual, which is something of an improvement, I guess.  Henry Hunter Hall (son of the director) borders on being too cute.  Only rap star Game impresses.  As the drug lord known as Meat, he's vicious enough to be frightening.  The movie would have been better served had it abandoned the silly and banal search for the kid and concentrated on him.

This movie is a stinker.  A bomb.  A dead zone.  Whatever you want to call it, it's a piece of crap.  Avoid it like the plague.

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