White Boy Rick Review
The story of Richard Wershe Jr. is surely an interesting one. He's a Detroit boy who evidently did crime with his father. To say he grew up hard would be a large understatement. At the age of 14, he became the youngest FBI informant ever. He sold drugs for the FBI in order to get closer to the users and other criminals of the city at the time. He was eventually abandoned by his handlers and sentenced to prison.
I've seen dozens and dozens of crime movies. I've seen the rise and fall of men who thought they were kings. I've seen several crime movies based on a true story. I love the genre, its always been one of my favorites. With that said, it seems like all of these movies are constructed the exact same. We see an early crime spree. We see a criminal go down. We see their way out through police or a law enforcement organization. We see them go in deep undercover, of sorts. We see suspicion with their friends and family. We see them get in too deep and over their heads. We then see how it all crumbles, or sometimes how it simply resolves. "White Boy Rick" heads to this formula, and it never waivers. Even if you don't know the story of Richard Wershe Jr. (and I will admit that I had never heard of this guy) you've seen this movie. That is the most disappointing thing about it. Even in 2018, we haven't figured out a way to approach the crime genre in a more creative, suspenseful way.
"White Boy Rick" hits homerun after homerun in the acting department. Richie Merritt plays Wershe and he's literally a revelation. Merritt makes you believe in the story being told. He sounds like he's from Detroit. He looks like he grew up hard. He's got a demeanor that doesn't compare to anybody else. He's got the goods to carry the movie on his shoulders and he's a young kid too. I hope this movie might peak high enough for Oscar buzz, because Merritt deserves the merit (pun totally intended). Matthew McConaughey plays his father, and its McConaughey. He's great all the time, and he's great here. The rest of the central cast includes Bruce Dern, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Rory Cochrane, Brian Tyree Henry, RJ Cyler and Jonathon Majors, all of whom are excellent.
I just wish that they had a script that wasn't so straightforward. There are couple gem moments and couple times where I laughed out loud. But those moments are few and far between. The movie plays out just as you'd expect it to. Because its so straightforward, it ends up being fairly boring and routine. Not what I was hoping for. But some decent performances may make me think about this more than usual.
FINAL GRADE: C