True crime + a teenager = a stylish if somewhat
familiar 80s tale of crime and punishment
WATCH THE TRAILER(S) HERE:
KEY CAST MEMBERS: Matthew McConaughey, Richie Merritt, Bel Powley, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Brian Tyree Henry, Rory Cochrane, RJ Cyler, Jonathan Majors, Taylour Paige, Eddie Marsan with Bruce Dern and Piper Laurie
WRITER(S): Andy Weiss and Logan & Noah Miller
(Editors Note: Dayton Connection- Donald W. White Jr., a 17-year veteran with the Riverside police department, spent 10 days in Cleveland and Miami filming, playing the role of Detroit Police Sgt. Jimmy Harris and Alan Bomar Jones, a professional actor from Dayton is also in this movie as a crooked copWillie Volson.)
DIRECTOR(S): Yann Demange
But things are about to change for Rick in a major way.
He’s about to start spending time with Lil Man (Jonathan Majors) and his posse … Which will attract the attention of FBI Agent Alex Snyder (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and FBI Agent Frank Byrd (Rory Cochrane) as well as Detroit PD’s own Detective Jackson (Brian Tyree Henry). Which, given his dad’s work, means he’s going to need to cooperate with them … Or else.
So … What happens when a 15 year-old kid gets involved with dope boys, the FBI and a desire to break free of his urban prison? An unbelievable story inspired by true events in the life of the kid who would come to be known as White Boy Rick.
SO IS IT GOOD, BAD OR JUST AWFUL? A movie that looks good, has solid performances and yet at the same time, manages not to add anything terribly new to the crime and punishment genre, White Boy Rick is not quite Scarface for millennials … But I’m sure it will serve many of them well in the meantime.
Based on the it-used-to-be-unbelievable-but-now-seems-quite-conceivable-given-today’s-headlines-with-teenagers, White Boy Rick features a strong performance by newcomer Richie Merritt, who’s street smart cool fits his character perfectly to be able to make the story real. Exhibiting a screen presence that is everything it needs to be, Merritt slides into his character’s world with a magnetism and charisma that is impossible to deny, more than holding his own alongside McConaughey, who delivers one of those performances award season voters tend to love. Director Yann Demerage makes the grit of Detroit’s 80s despair come fully alive on screen, making it quite viable to understand how it could produce a kid like Rick, Eminem or any number of impoverished youth who’s entire reality is guns, drugs and despair. At the same time, he is able to create moments that show the fragile hope of Richie’s youth – if you own a pair of roller skates, this movie is going to make you want to practice going backwards after you dig for your old mixtapes – and how he tries to do the right thing despite the worst possible means.What audiences will either be most enthralled or appalled by isn’t the film’s language, sex or drug use. Those things are now as common in American culture/entertainment; no, it will be with the film’s ending and whether or not the true facts of Wershe, Jr’s fate were justifiable. That’s what a logical movie watcher would expect, anyway – his choices were his own, but it’s the age-old question of does the time fit the crime(s) and what do the events of this (then) young man’s life say about life in America and the subcultures we like to act don’t exist in our happy, 22-minute sitcom with commercials world?
That is a question I cannot answer for you; I can only answer whether or not you should give White Boy Rick a watch or not. And that answer – for anyone who wants to watch an inherently compelling American story from one of its favorite decades – is “yes.”