– I think you Five-O! – Five-O, man I ain’t no motherfucking cop! – Then hit this motherfucker then! – I can feel it…
With a soundtrack like this, Deep Cover was destined for eternity. Directed by Bill Duke (Mac from Predator), it’s one of the rare hood movies that double as a noir movie. It feels like it was directed by Martin Scorsese, showcasing Duke’s talent. Character development and dynamics between these players were pure perfection. I have seen this movie a couple of years after it was released and I practically memorized it momentarily. I still sometimes hear Gopher screaming Felix, please!!! This uncompromising and raw approach to this subject was very refreshing, especially when you consider the popularity of buddy cop movies without much substance during the eighties and nineties.
In Deep Cover, we could see not only the flashy lives of dealers but also the havoc that they have left in their path, with many innocents caught in the game. The script is impeccable, without any melodrama, and with twists and turns to keep you engaged. Gritty, neon-lit, and taking place in a decade covered in blow, it’s basically a time-capsule. Because it not only tells a story about people caught up in the drug game but also details just how much of an impact drugs had on people of color. Today, we know the backstory of how crack ended up in the USA and the insanity that was and still is The War on Drugs.
Russell Stevens knew he was going to be a cop since he was a little kid. He watched his father die before his eyes in a robbery gone wrong. Fast forward twenty years and Russel is now a young police officer working on the streets of Cincinnati. After DEA recruits him, Russel goes undercover trying to infiltrate a big drug smuggling operation. He starts as a small dealer and soon makes his way to moving larger quantities of cocaine. However, as he’s becoming a big player in the world of drugs he starts forgetting that he’s actually a cop trying to get the bad guys.
Laurence Fishburne, at that time an emerging actor, realistically played the part of the cop, and this role will mark the beginning of his movie carrier. His gravelly voice as he’s narrating what’s going on pulled you into the story even further. It made it somehow very personal like all this was happening to someone you know or even yourself. The overwhelming feeling of loneliness and a hopeless mission reminds us that we’re watching a true neo-noir movie. And although the story is not based on real events, I have a feeling that the characters of Barbossa and Gallegos might be based on Félix Gallardo. Also, Jeff Goldblum was eerily convincing as the sleazy but calculated lawyer David Jason driven by ruthless ambition. Man, this movie is so cool!
Finally, if you’re looking for movies like Deep Cover, I have to recommend In Too Deep, New Jack City, and Fresh. I also have to mention the Chicano epic Blood In, Blood Out (Vatos Locos forever man), and French hood masterpiece La Haine. Enjoy.
Director: Bill Duke
Writers: Michael Tolkin, Henry Bean
Cast: Laurence Fishburne, Jeff Goldblum, Alisa Christensen, Bruce Paul Barbou, Cory Curtis
Fun Stuff: One of the pictures on Carver’s criminal family tree chart is of director Bill Duke.