VOD Review - Deuces
The premise is about an undercover cop who tries to bring down a violent gang linked to all kinds of gun murders. However, as it goes along, the cop's allegiances start to change. This is not uncommon from other undercover cop films like Point Break (1991) or Donnie Brasco (1997). The difference in this movie is its extra layer of intrigue. The undercover cop in a way falls in love with the leader of the drug gang, but the undercover cop also has a sister who unbeknownst to the cop also falls in love with the leader of that same, drug gang. Both siblings get close to the same criminal without knowing it. It's a very compelling idea that Hill crafts, but arguably he doesn't do enough with it.
This is where Hill's screenplay, co-written by Curtis Bryant, falters. Jason and Stephen bond too quickly. Jason becomes a compatriot way too fast and Stephen starts defending him strongly for no concrete reason. There is a moment when Stephen saves Jason's life, but it happens too late in the movie for it to have the impact it should have. It gets to a point where the two would kill for each other but the movie never succeeds in convincing us why they would. The best example recently of an undercover cop and criminal bonding quickly and believably is The Night Manager. That Emmy-winning series had a longer time, but it still was able to set-up early why the two men would bond with each other, or at least why the criminal would bond with the undercover cop so fast.
Jason never knows his sister is dating Stephen, the guy he's trying to arrest. When he does find out, Hill doesn't really use it to build any kind of stakes to either of the character's relationships. By the end, it might as well have been that Jason and Janet weren't related at all. Their being siblings ultimately doesn't matter. It doesn't affect the plot or have any bearing on anything that follows.
It does help that Larenz Tate is ridiculously charismatic. He has always had a swagger to him that even when he's playing an awkward character as in The Inkwell (1994), he still manages to be endearing or attractive in some way. He's of course gorgeous, boyishly handsome and simply sexy that it makes sense how and why anyone would follow and fall in love with him. So, in the end, Larenz Tate saves this movie. He's just that good an actor and screen presence.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 27 mins.
Played at the 2016 Philadelphia Film Festival.
Available on Netflix on April 1.