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A black uniformed policeman is recruited by a devious drug enforcement agent to infiltrate a smuggling organization seeking to expand into designer drugs. This 'ugly side of the war on drugs' explores the context of race, identity and hypocrisy within a brutal and alienating investigation. Written by
Keith Loh <email@example.com>
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Intelligent filmmaking that is hard to find in today's films
Deep Cover stands out as a great example of how to make a good film and has something that is often missing from modern cinema. The cinematography, editing, and music are all outstanding. What's even better is how all those elements tie-in to a well thought out and communicated theme of duality. The two main characters Russel/John (Fishburne) and David (Goldblum) parallel each other nicely, and reinforce the theme perfectly.
On the one hand, there's Russel, the cop determined to make a difference in his community who is then taken advantage of by his superiors and used like a tool. Russel begins demonstrating more and more criminal traits as the film goes on, eventually "becoming" his undercover alter ego John. As a criminal, John is able to do exactly what he set out to do, all while commanding respect and receiving tons of money without any of the red tape he had as a cop. In the end, he has to make a choice, cop or criminal. Work with society and be dishonest to yourself, or work outside of society and be dishonest to "the system".
On the other hand, there's David, a lawyer with a nice wife, house, and kid, but also happens to be a major drug dealer. He too must make the same difficult choice, even stating in the film, "I want my cake and eat it too", which truthfully shows that it is a hard decision.
While Deep Cover is labeled by most as a "hood movie", it is quite different in it's themes from most films in that genre. Instead of simply presenting the inner cities' problems, the filmmakers here try to answer the question of why. Why do young people feel the need to become criminals? Perhaps it's because of the bureaucratic nature of a society that turns it's back on those with strong uncompromising individuality coupled with low income. Maybe not. But unlike most films that answer all the questions they present for their audiences, Deep Cover simply asks the questions, and leaves the answers up to its audience.
The filmmaking here is intelligent, the subject matter is interesting, and the audience is treated with an amount of respect that isn't easy to find in modern film. No, the film isn't perfect, but at least in my eyes, it's very close to being so.
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