In Too Deep [1999]

Undercover cop Jeffrey Cole is doing "God's" work, and he is losing his religion. God is Dwayne Gittens, whose neighborhood benevolence masks his thriving Cincinnati (a refreshing change of scenery) drug trade. Cole, a rookie fresh out of the Academy is "ready for the big score" and is charged by his mentor to "bring God and his angels down for good." But the higher Cole rises in Gittens's organization, the deeper he gets. Omar Epps redeems himself after The Mod Squad with a gripping and empathetic performance as the increasingly conflicted Cole. After scoring as the comic relief in Deep Blue Sea, LL Cool J gets down to business as Gittens, the master of his domain who rules with an iron hand (and, in one particularly nasty sequence, a pool cue), but is also capable of compassion and charity. As Cole's concerned superior, Stanley Tucci avoids the bluster usually associated with this stock character. Pam Grier, whose career should have gotten a Viagralike pop from Jackie Brown, makes the most out of her thankless role as a fellow officer who finds herself in a climactic standoff with Cole. In Too Deep briefly loses its focus after Cole is pulled from the case. He takes photography classes and becomes involved with a model (Nia Long). But fans of TV's late, lamented Wiseguy, the unjustly neglected Deep Cover, and Donnie Brasco will find Cole'a anguished odyssey compelling. --Donald Liebenson

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