There are performances whose brilliance doesn't become evident until an actor has amassed a body of work big enough for us to examine with a critical eye. At a turning point in Wesley Snipes' career came The Waterdance, a small drama about paraplegics from directors Neal Jimenez and Michael Steinberg. Snipes was hot off of New Jack City, and about to spend the next ten years as one of America's leading action movie stars. The Waterdance marks Snipes' last appearance as a working character actor before moving on to movie stardom in 1992's White Men Can't Jump, and re-examining his role as Raymond Hill in the film reveals a versatility that Snipes seems to have actively shunned by choosing projects that portrayed him primarily as a hard-ass action hero.
The Waterdance stars Eric Stoltz as Joel Garcia (a surrogate for paraplegic screenwriter Jimenez) as he struggles to heal from a spinal injury that cost him the use of his legs. He shares a room with two strong personalities, each dealing with their handicap in their own way -- volatile, racist bruiser Bloss (played by William Forsyth) and Snipes' charming storyteller Hill. Garcia's journey of acceptance moves the plot along, but Hill's reverse arc provides the film with almost all of its best scenes.