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White Boy Rick Review - Solid, Edgy, No Filters

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White Boy Rick, from Columbia Pictures Corporation, presents the story of Rick Wershe, Jr., a 15-year-old  drug dealer in 1980's, burned-out, addicted Detroit, recruited by the FBI who used him and then denied knowing him.

Directed by Yann Demange, White Boy Rick stars Matthew McConaughey, Richie Merritt, Bel Powely, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Brian Tyree Henry, Rory Cochrane, RJ Cyler, Jonathan Majors, Eddie Marsan, Taylour Paige, Kyanna Simone Simpson with Bruce Dern and Piper Laurie.

White Boy Rick begins at a gun show with Rick, played by Richie Merritt, talking to a gun dealer who is trying to pawn off a fake AK47 and of course when he is called on it by a kid, he begins to call the kid a hustler and a few other choice names, which is when he calls for his dad, Richard, Sr., played by Matthew McConaughey who goes head to head with the dealer explaining the finer points of an authentic AK and better have learned a lesson than lose a licence and he make him a deal he can't refuse.


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Oh the way home, Richard is asked why he never left Detroit as the camera pans the burned out buildings, factories in recession, an economy that has created a chasm between the haves and the desperate, and left neighborhoods wasted and those who once held to the promise and the belief of a better future wondering when it all disappeared. Richard, Sr., someone who was left to adapt said, smiling "The lion doesn't leave the Serengeti."

Right now the Richard is hustling guns, with the drugs rotting the foundation of neighborhoods, families and lives, every up and coming gangster wanted a gun. Only what made Richard's different is his brand of modification.

The two roll up to their house, and see a rusted out blue trans am in the driveway recognizing the car he knew, like every parent who is trying to rescue their child from the streets, whose owned the car and what was going down right now in his house.

This is where we meet Dawn Wershe, played by Bel Powley, a strung out, crack addicted addict. She is so strung out and willing to do anything for a bump, she believes Ty, played by Lawrence Adimora, is her white knight coming to rescue her. She is blind to herself, the man, the rot of the drugs.

Soon she leaves home to be with the dealer, and Richard and Richie are moving the weapons.

This is where we meet both the local gangsters, Johnny "lil Man' Curry, played by Jonathan Majors, Rudell 'Boo' Curry, played by RJ Cyler, who is also Rick, Jr's best friend. The rest of the crew is Edwin 'Nugg' Crutcher played by Raekwon Haynes, Leo 'Big Man' Curry, played by YG, 'Freaky Steve' Roussell played by Ishmael Ali, 'Black Ed' Hanserd played by Danny Brown, and the FBI Agent Snyder, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh and Agent Byrd, played by Rory Cochrane who are watching the gangster's clubhouse.

Carrying the modified AK's Rick,  explains to Johnny 'Lil Man' the up-sell strategy his dad explained. Regular AK's are like crack, available on every corner, but these James Bond modified, it's primo and only available at this store. His strategy works and the 'Lil Man' buys the weapons and brings Rick, Jr, into the family.

Soon as we find out baby faced Rick is a target for gangsters, the FBI and the Detroit Narcotics Unit. With everyone from the Mayor down corrupt and on the take knowing the enemy is crucial.

My first thought about five minutes into White Boy Rick was that there must be more stories surfacing from the 1980's War on Drugs that truthfully show the dirty dealing police and FBI who use their position to abuse the people who for some reason have some unfounded belief in an honest system.

The criminals are supposed be corrupt not the FBI, judges, police, and every other person who swears loyalty and allegiance to uphold the system. Unfortunately that is not the case as White Boy Rick vividly presents.

Yes. Okay he is a drug dealer, a major player, and like we hear, he was a 15-year-old FBI informant. So for all his risk, hard work, youth, and loyalty to those who were supposed to have his back, what did he get? We know he was abandoned by his handlers and sent to prison for life.

A true story, White Boy Rick paints a vivid portrait of the other side of the 1980's glut of drugs. Corruption, big money, dozens of narco cops burning informants to work the trade, burned-out, inner cities, crack dens, live lost and futures destroyed.

The cast brings so much heart to this story that so many wished would have remained forgotten, dead and buried. All around the acting is impactful and outstanding, with scene stealing, great moments, by everyone along the way.


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Knowing these behaviors and situations, rescuing an addicted daughter from the crack den, being on first name basis with FBI Agents, being a major drug dealer and FBI informant at 15, were a part of everyday life and as a script is edited those would have to be the pivotal moments to make the cut. What was left out over the three years the film covers? Now that's something to wrap your mind around.

The film is about family, and even when everyone abandons you even in the worst of times family is supposed to stay together.

Bruce Dern and Piper Laurie each give accomplished performances as the grandparents, when moving away meant across the street to keep family together. The gangster crew lead by Jonathan Majors are genuinely believable with new money showing up in flashy this, gold that solid rides and a competitive wardrobe.

Stay around for the credits as the audiences is brought up to date on everyone including Rick Warshe, Jr.

White Boy Rick is an solid film, well made, smart, edgy, real, a no filters picture. White Boy Rick opens September 14, 2018. See it.

 

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