What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this movie isn't for kids. It includes frequent and graphic violence, as well as incessant profanity (over 90 "f--k"s, for starters). The film begins with a carjacking that becomes a kidnapping. It includes multiple shoot-outs and car chases, with blood shown. The chief villain first appears chopping off a man's arm with a machete (bloody arm and stump visible). The protagonists break into a home to hide out, rob several banks in one day, and share a brief sex scene (close-ups of limbs and faces). A woman smokes cigarettes, drugs are smoked and dealt, and one character drinks malt liquor from a bottle while driving.
What's the story?
Newly released from prison, O2 (Tyrese Gibson) is a security guard and dedicated single father to Junior (H. Hunter Hall). That said, his messages are somewhat mixed: When he learns Junior beat up a boy who picked on him at school, Dad is visibly proud even as he instructs his son not to fight. When his car is stolen with Junior in it, O2 shoots up half the street, killing several bad guys, but he loses his son. O2 sets out to recover Junior with the help of Coco ( Meagan Good). O2's shifty smalltime crook cousin Lucky (Larenz Tate) finds out the boy is being held by Big Meat (rapper The Game). Due to their history as former associates, Big Meat -- who runs a major drug operation, in addition to dealing stolen goods -- wants $100,000 for Junior's return. Distraught father and feisty instant-girlfriend go on a bank robbing spree, labeled in media-moments "a modern day Bonnie and Clyde." The inevitable showdown between O2 and Meat is grim, and sets up a much grander clash between O2 and what looks like half the LAPD.
Is it any good?
Loud, fast, and skillfully assembled, WAIST DEEP follows the model of old school B-movies: It makes social and political points under the guise of a generic action plot. While the plot is overtly ludicrous and extremely violent (nearly every scene leads to a shoot-out, beating, or car chase), it works against a background day-long demonstration, "Save Our Streets."
Scholar Michael Eric Dyson (who recently wrote a book criticizing government responses to Hurricane Katrina, Come Hell or High Water, and here plays a radio commentator) and demonstrators weigh in on the "terror in our streets," brought on by poor education and foster care systems, and lack of funding and security. Even as O2 wreaks all kinds of mayhem to rescue Junior, the point is that none of them should be in this position, where criminals run the local economy and the cops are perceived as enemies.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the father's dedication to his son: How does his promise to "always come back for" Junior motivate his illegal actions throughout the film? Why does O2's cousin fail to keep his promises? How does Coco's relationship with O2 inspire her to quit her street hustling and become maternal for Junior? How does the movie's background activity -- the demonstration to "Save Our Streets" -- compete and coincide with O2's apparently necessary violence?