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Waist Deep

Paper Thin

Waist Deep is a film that purports to explore the idea of just how far a father would go to save his son. It’s an admirable idea and it’s fun to watch "O2" (Tyrese Gibson) plug thugs with lead, drive his car at breakneck speed, and generally throw caution to the wind in his desperate quest to rescue his kidnapped son. But, the reality is he wouldn’t have been in this position to begin with had he decided to do the right thing a long time ago and walk on the right side of the law.

Let’s set this aside for a minute and focus on what does work in Waist Deep. Debut director Vondie Curtis-Hall does an excellent job of conveying the frenetic, frenzied internal state of O2 via a slew of fight sequences and car chases that are filmed in cinema verite style. Hall makes you feel like you’re along for the ride on this one and admittedly, it’s a rush.

Complimenting Hall’s fevered visual style is an intense performance by Tyrese Gibson as the desperate O2. Having sworn via a “pinkie promise” to come back for his son, Gibson brings a level of intensity to O2 that is off the charts, but about what one would expect from someone who witnessed his son disappear before his eyes. Gibson’s status as an action star should be solidified by his performance in Waist Deep.

An equally intense performance is on display in The Game’s portrayal of “Meat”, the druglord who has O2’s son hostage. Meat is truly one of the most menacing and nefarious villains one can fathom as evidenced by a gruesome scene in which he wantonly hacks off an employee’s arm with a machete. The Game’s performance is even more impressive considering it is his film debut. He clearly relished playing the heavy in this one.

While O2’s love for his son is endearing and inspiring, the course of action he employs in Waist Deep to get him back doesn’t hold a lot of water. O2 has two strikes against him when his car is jacked with his son in the backseat. Despite this O2 has no problem committing a litany of crimes (including homicide and bank robbery) to get him back.

Even if O2 gets his son back, what’s he going to do as the cops will invariably catch up with him and separate father from son? Waist Deep aspires to be a Bonnie and Clyde, but the film is neck deep in plot contrivances and holes resulting in a film that had a lot of potential, but is ultimately a waste.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars