Turgid and tawdry, Waist Deep is a deep waste of a workable premise. Tyrese Gibson plays ex-con O2 (insert your own 'phoning it in' gag here), who returns to crime to raise the $10,000 ransom for his kidnapped son. The scene is swiftly set for a race-against-time romp; yet expectations of a guilty pleasure prove as misplaced as director Vondie Curtis-Hall's aspirations to urban realism. As far as credibility goes, this makes Get Rich Or Die Tryin' look like Boyz N The Hood.
That said, it does conjure up Hood helmer John Singleton's Baby Boy, a more thoughtful take on single dad-hood starring Gibson. Here, the nipper involved (Curtis-Hall's own sprog, H Hunter Hall) ain't nothing but a macguffin, his unwitting capture (he's in the backseat when Gibson gets carjacked) purely a pretext for our anti-hero to start popping caps and robbing banks. He's joined on the rampage by street hustler Coco (Meagan Good), with whom he gets risibly romantic.
When some dude dubs the duo "the new Bonnie And Clyde" the film reveals a rare sense of humour. A shade more self-awareness and the whopping implausibilities would seem more forgivable. Even so, there's no excuse for the slackness of the action scenes, not least the final showdown with one-eyed, machete-armed monster Meat (played by rapper The Game). But the worst is saved for last: just when you think the movie has shown the courage of its 'gritty' convictions, it hits you with schmaltz that would shame a Hallmark card.