Set in contemporary Chicago, amid a time of turmoil, four women with nothing in common except a debt left behind by their dead husbands' criminal activities, take fate into their own hands, and conspire to forge a future on their own terms.
In 1980's Detroit, 17 year-old Richard Wershe, Jr. allegedly ran a sophisticated inner-city drug dealing operation. Now, journalists, police, federal agents and hit men are speaking for the first time about the legend of "White Boy Rick."
Richard Wershe Jr.,
Scott M. Burnstein,
The story of Dick Cheney, an unassuming bureaucratic Washington insider, who quietly wielded immense power as Vice President to George W. Bush, reshaping the country and the globe in ways that we still feel today.
Set in 1980s Detroit at the height of the crack epidemic and the War on Drugs, WHITE BOY RICK is based on the moving story of a blue-collar father and his teenage son, Rick Wershe Jr., who became an undercover police informant and later a drug dealer, before he was abandoned by his handlers.
Although there is just more content being made today than in any other decade in history, it does seem like films based on a true story have become even more prominent throughout the medium. Not knowing much about this particular story, known as White Boy Rick, I went into this film not truly knowing where it would end up, but still managed to feel a little unsatisfied with it as a whole. There are many biopics out there that handle material in a unique way, but everything about this film feels safe. While the story itself is quite fascinating and the character of Rickie enjoyable to watch, I can't help but reflect on the fact that this film strayed as far away from taking risks as it possibly could have. Here's why I believe White Boy Rick is an enjoyable film to watch, but won't really surpass anyone's expectations of it.
Being an insider for the FBI, White Boy Rick follows young Rick Wershe Jr., played by Richie Merritt in his breakout role, as he dives deeper and deeper into the crime of drug trafficking, becoming too involved for his own good. Since stories like this have been told before, I was hoping for something a little more interesting in terms of structure, but it really just feels like a series of events and set pieces that will eventually lead him to his eventual downfall. There is a through-line that gives this film a beginning and an end, but it really just feels like a character progression and evolution, rather than a film that has been structured as three acts. This was a little disappointing, considering the plot itself could've shown a slightly darker side. This is where the movie started to lose me a little.
Although the story is meant to be light-hearted in most moments (due to the nature of this crazy story), there are quite a few dramatically effective scenes to go along with them, but it almost felt like the movie was getting a little too serious for the writers, so they had to take away from some of the emotion by adding jokes. The best portions of this movie are when Rick is having a great time with his "friends" and hanging out at the roller rink or breaking laws. This is what the movie needed more of, but the family dynamic is a little too prevalent in my opinion. White Boy Rick needed a better balance between its storylines, but maybe that's just me.
On top of everything, I think the most disappointing aspect of this movie is the fact that everything feels very standard in terms of filmmaking. From the editing to the direction, to the score and songs throughout the movie, it all felt very formulaic. I felt like I was watching a movie that kept wanting to take risks but decided to play it safe in order to appeal to the real people involved, as well as appealing to the masses. That being said, for a movie that relies heavily on family, the performances need to be top-notch. Otherwise, it would fall apart.
Matthew McConaughey gives one of his best efforts in a while and a particular scene actually had me in tears. This really shouldn't come as a surprise, though, seeing as everyone expects him to bring a lot to the table nowadays. Newcomer Richie Merritt is the one to talk about, however. While his performance isn't something that people will be talking about for decades to come, this was quite the impressive first impression. The actor himself has had experiences like this film's premise throughout his childhood, so maybe that added to his talent here, but I'd say look out for his future work.
In the end, White Boy Rick has a stellar cast and a talented crew across the board, but it never feels like it's trying to impress or surprise. This is a series of events that lead up to today's current state, and while the story itself is very interesting and makes for a very enjoyable movie, it doesn't have the energy that it promised from its trailers. This is a very slow-moving film, with a great story and fine execution of every technical aspect. White Boy Rick is a good time at the movies, but I don't believe it's a must-see.
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