From the Vault: As the streaming space keeps growing, massive studio catalogs are becoming more and more available. These include lost and forgotten gems, so-bad-it’s-good duds, and just plain weird pieces of film history. And you probably won’t find them by waiting for streamers to put them in front of you. In From the Vault, Android Authority aims to rescue these titles from the algorithm graveyard and help you get more out of your streaming subscriptions.
Bill Duke’s 1992 crime drama Deep Cover is streaming on HBO Max, and it’s an absolute masterpiece of neo-noir cinema worth checking out on the streamer as soon as you can.
The story of an undercover cop losing his faith in the system he’s a part of is as smart and original as ever, with killer performances and painfully relevant themes of police corruption and social inequities.
Below, we go over why Deep Cover on HBO Max is worthy of rescuing from the vault.
What is Deep Cover about?
In Deep Cover, Laurence Fishburne plays DEA agent Russell Stevens, who goes undercover to break up a drug trafficking ring as low-level drug dealer John Hull.
Partnering with shifty lawyer David Jason (Jeff Goldblum), he rises through the LA underworld, climbing his way to the top by blending in with the people he’s sworn to take down.
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But as he rises through the ranks, Russell is plagued by questions about his own complicity. The end goal of his superiors is wrapped up in global politics and the US government’s dubious influence in South America. His simple goal of keeping people off drugs and out of jail — or worse — isn’t shared by those in charge.
Deep Cover was well-received when it came out in 1992, but it’s only grown more relevant over time.
It’s also a recent inductee into the Criterion Collection, with a gorgeous Blu-ray and DVD release, and the prestige that comes with the cinephile imprint.
Stylish neo-noir filmmaking
Director Bill Duke injects an incredibly stylish energy into Deep Cover. His creative and striking use of light and shadow gives the film a distinctly noir aesthetic. It’s perfectly matched to his tale of duplicitous, shadowy figures, crime, racism, and urban decay.
More From the Vault: Watch the Coen Brothers’ Blood Simple