Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Goldblum Fest: A World of Compromise in "Deep Cover"



Do you ever look at people and wonder how they started life in a certain way and then got derailed? I mean, look at Tom Cruise. In his youth he wanted to be a Catholic priest and now he's a member of Scientology, an expensive and popularized cult. How do you get there?

I look at David Jason (Goldblum's character) in Deep Cover in much the same way, with a highly quizzical expression and a need to understand. Because I know why Laurence Fishburne's character, Russell Stevens Jr., is doing what he's doing. He's a cop under cover, really deep cover, trying to take down a drug ring. He has to get in tight with the bad boys, which unfortunately means selling some drugs on the street, which frankly, I'm not sure would have actually happened. But hey, this is the movies. What do you want? Accuracy?

No, what I'm talking about is David Jason. He is an apparent upstanding American citizen of Jewish heritage with a charming blonde wife and adorable little daughter. He is literally living the American dream, fine house, nice car, perfect life. Except that his life is built on lies and drugs and immorality. He is Russell's point of contact with the drug cartel. Everything about Jason is a lie.

On the exterior, Jason appears pristine, handsome, likeable even, in typical Jeff Goldblum fashion. But on the inside, he is corrupt. There is a high probability that David Jason was raised by devout Jewish parents. They likely prayed daily, took him to Synagogue, and he probably had a bar Mitzvah. To say nothing of celebrating Hanukkah and and Passover and all of the other traditions that go along with being, well, Jewish. But somewhere along that traditional religious path, he took one step down a different road.




The movie viewer is introduced to him in the home setting. He's with his wife and his daughter, and he's trying to keep his wife from giving his daughter the answers to the math questions in her homework because she needs to learn the method, not just the answers. He seems so . . . normal. So nice.

Slowly, the film chips away at that facade.

He's a drug dealer. Okay, maybe he's in it because he's being pressured. Nope, it appears not, because he's sniffing cocaine. All right, so he's a drug user too. At least he's not an adulterer. Oh, no, yes, he's an adulterer too, sleeping with any and every skank he can chase between the sheets (no actual scenes, thank heavens). Man, that's really troubling, but at least he's not a killer. Whoops, he's killed somebody.

And than, almost worst of all, it turns out that his wife actually knows about his involvement with the drugs and the sex. She knows where their money is coming from, of his unfaithfulness to her as a husband. She knows, but she still stays with him. It was the final death knell in the coffin of his character.

Literally every sin we could consider a major sin, David Jason commits. They start out small, like most compromises. And then they build until Jason finds that he can't get enough. He's done nearly everything. Every sexual perversion of interest to him, he's performed. He's obscenely wealthy, and he is now running out of things to satisfy him. The hunger keeps building and building, and the viewer sees his insatiability manifested as the film progresses. His behavior escalates, his need for titillation.


Isn't that the way with sin? It keeps pushing the barrier, forcing us to compromise more and more until we find ourselves in places of perversion we never imagined going. The David Jason eventually gunned down in a pool of blood is not the David Jason raised by his parents. He took one step off the straight and narrow, then another, and then he just kept right on walking to his death. I did not even mourn the loss of the character. By that point he was so morally reprehensible that I wanted him dead. At least then he wouldn't be selling drugs to innocent kids.

For Christians it is sometimes comforting to think that everyone stands a chance of finding salvation. But what about those people that constantly harden their hearts against God? At some point, He will say, "If you want your heart hard, I will harden it." There are numerous accounts through scripture of man hardening his own heart and then finally, God doing it for him. Romans 9:18 tells us, "Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden."

David Jason had countless times to turn away from his wickedness. There were even times when Russell Stevens almost broke cover in an effort to hold him back, but it never worked. Jason just wanted more and more, more sin, more pleasure, more fulfillment, all resulting in such horrific emptiness and eventual death.

I'm not entirely sure what I was expecting when I watched Deep Cover. I think a review I read seriously mislead me because I expected Goldblum's character to end up being a good guy in the end. Yeah, well . . . not. Still, it gives me pause. What we present, what I present, to others is not always who I am underneath. David Jason's friends and neighbors had no idea of his true nature. Who I am on the inside needs to reflect the person that people see. I want others to see light in me. I don't want to have any darkness that needs to be hidden. It's a shame that David Jason never reached the same realization.

Disclaimer: In no way do I endorse any of my readers ever watching Deep Cover. I found a cautionary tale within the depths of the story worth examining. Some people even claim it is Goldblum's finest achievement, but I cannot overlook the nudity (not Goldblum) and excessive language. Violence I can handle up to a point, but the very topic of this film, the dirty underbelly of drug dealers and a deep cover cop, makes it morose, depressing, and certainly not for children or for the highly sensitive. I watched it on my Kindle screen, thankfully only 8 inches wide. Deep Cover earns its R rating.

5 comments:

  1. C.S. Lewis wrote in "The Screwtape Letters" that the ultimate goal of Satan is that humans should over-indulge in things that give them no pleasure -- obsessively pursuing something that is truly empty. That kept going through my mind when reading this, because it's what David is doing -- pursuing things that titillate him for a short time but ultimately leave him desiring more. More sex, more violence, more drugs, more wealth, anything to fill the emptiness in his soul.

    Christians believe only one thing -- God -- can fill that emptiness; but the rest of the world continues to seek material ways to cover the empty ache of nothingness that consumes us all from the inside out. They pursue things that they soon tire of, and then must push on to find newer, greater, more tantalizing things that soon, are just as empty as the experience that came before it. Too much is never enough.

    On a purely shallow note, if the photos are any indication, this is the cutest I've ever seen Jeff Goldblum. The nice clothing and and short haircut suit him.

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    1. Lewis as completely right, as we both know. Any sins that I've indulged in my life always lead to my wanting more. It's the natural progression of desire. God designed foreplay for a reason because He intended it to lead to intimacy. Unfortunately our brains do the same thing with any repetitive sin, which is why pornography is such a sickness because it leads to more and worse content. It's an escalation of evil in our minds.

      Ordinarily I wouldn't write a post about a guy like David Jason, but I had to because I felt that the character, the entire story even, has such important messages for today's society. Getting sucked into that loop of sin only leads to worse and worse perversions. it's so sad, and yes, you're right, very, very empty.

      That's why, as much as I love RDJ's Only You, these characters are trying to fill the emptiness with each other. There are no soul mates, not like that, but a desire for something deeper than another human begin can never give.

      I'm happy my post got the message across that I was trying so hard to describe. :)

      As for good old Jeff himself, he's gorgeous in this film. Which made me hate him all the more because I really wanted to like him! There's even a scene where he's kind of being slapped around a little bit by a guy higher up in the drug dealer's hierarchy and I felt a little twinge of empathy. Probably just because it's Goldblum, but still, I had to tamp it down. He was just so good-looking. He really should have worn suits more often during his glory days!

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    2. It truly astounds me, how boring sin can become after awhile. We must constantly push ourselves further to greater heights of depravity to get a “high” from it.

      I’ll use sugar as an example, but one could easily inject “pornography” instead – a little bit of sugar leads your body to crave more, so you eat more; your body becomes fatter and you are unhappy, but you still have that craving, so you continue to eat sweet things… but after awhile, they no longer taste as sweet, so you seek out even more delicious and sugary treats to sate that sweet tooth that no longer gives you any pleasure at all. Soon, instead of having a cup of sweet tea, you need to eat a slice of cake. Then, the cake stops working. Now what? You search for something else sweet… something that fills your craving … while getting fatter and fatter, and more and more unhappy, but still, you NEED IT. Your body says you need it. Thus, the cycle repeats itself… only you now hate yourself, for being so fat, while reaching for the twinkies.

      Little indulgences lead to big ones. I know this, so why do I give in to the little indulgences? Because I want to hold onto my sin, to keep it close to me, to have that ONE area of defiance against God. I know better. I ought to push it away. But I’m human and have a sin nature and somewhere inside, a little voice says, “I NEED IT.”

      I’m always fascinated with man’s descent into depravity, while at the same time repulsed by it. Just reading this post tempts me to watch the film, but I am resisting it. I already know the message of the story (if there was even one intended; perhaps as believers, we merely saw the truth where none was meant) so there is no need to watch it, but my morbid, sinful curiosity is prodding me to examine it. Sinful urges can be insidious, can’t they? Tempting, even. I’d never be tempted by “The Wolf of Wall Street,” but something like this is so much more enticing, somehow. Maybe because the content is not as graphic.

      Regarding significant others… soul mates do not exist and will not fulfill us; what we should strive toward in a relationship is to seek out someone who continue to push us to become deeper, more mature, godly human beings. Most of us want superficial things – to be comfortable with them, or attracted to them, or to get along, or to have the same interest in the same kinds of things, when what we really need from another person is continual stretching of us, toward the things that are beyond this world. Spiritual depth in a partner … and to be worthy of that, we must be deep ourselves. I’m struggling with that at the moment. The desire to be deep, and the laziness to not want to commit to the hard road of self-improvement through the pursuit of depth.

      On a shallow note, more men should wear suits. All the time. A nicely cut suit really highlights a man’s attractiveness. It does the same for a woman; a nice outfit, a good haircut, not only exudes professional confidence but beauty. Which is sexier, overall – a pair of go-go boots or a pair of heels?

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    3. I'm not going to push you to watch this movie, but I do know that you could handle it without much difficulty. There are also some really positive messages to be taken away from it. One of the cops who works with Stevens claims he is a Christian and every action he takes really substantiates that claim. I've never really seen such a truthful rendering of a Christian in secular film before so that shocked me.

      While some of the film really does wax melodramatic, like Steven's constant voice-over reminiscent of those old detective movies, overall it's pretty high quality. But like you said, it is the story of a man descending further and further into depravity, both for David Jason and for Stevens as he struggles with being engulfed in that sort of life. I imagine that many undercover agents must have to fight against yielding to the temptations around them and losing their souls to it. That's not a job I would ever want.

      If you do watch it, it would be interesting to hear your take on it.

      Also, I'd say that 1992 was Goldblum's best year ever for hair. :)

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    4. Might watch it sometime. If I can handle "Mystic River," I can probably handle anything. It's a shame that some of the most thought-provoking films have the worst language in them -- I watched a really interesting film that made me think about memory manipulation / planting false information in our minds, making up memories and filling in the blanks (psychology, in other words) the other day and... it was rated R for f-words. Shame, because the ending was fantastic and it really made me think.

      Undercover agents do struggle a lot with becoming their work ... going too far in order to keep up the farce. It's true that what you choose to act like determines who you become, which is why we have to be so careful about what we choose to emulate. What you think about, you become.

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