• James Rutherford

'Deep Cover': A Shrewd and Forceful Depiction of an Undercover Cop Infiltrating the L.A. Underworld


Movie poster for the 1992 film Deep Cover

Deep Cover (1992) is a dynamic urban thriller starring Laurence Fishburne as Russell Stevens Jr., an LAPD officer recruited to operate covertly within LA's criminal underworld. Enlisted by DEA Special Agent Gerald Carver (Charles Martin Smith) to bolster America's ongoing war on drugs, Stevens is given a mandate of infiltrating the West Coast's largest importer.


Stevens adopts the alias "John Hull" and begins selling cocaine out of a low-cost motel as point-of-entry into relations with syndicate bosses Anton Gallegos (Arthur Mendoza) and Hector Guzmán (René Assa). Quick success in the drug trade brings him into association with attorney David Jason (Jeff Goldblum), while simultaneously drawing the undue attention of LAPD Narcotics Detective Taft (Clarence Williams III). Stevens and Jason soon become a formidable pairing, distributing a new synthetic form of cocaine while going head-to-head with Gallegos over control of the city's drug trafficking network.


Co=written by Michael Tolkin (The Player) and directed by Bill Duke (A Rage in Harlem), Deep Cover is a blisteringly forthright depiction of early 90's-era criminality. Fishburne and Goldblum deliver the goods as an unlikely pair of unlawful accomplices—mismatched yet oddly cogent in their alliance. With underlying themes of morality, devotion and unfettered bureaucracy, it's one of the more cerebral takes on the urban thriller—both titillating and thought-provoking in equal measure.

 

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