“White Boy Rick” stars Matthew McConaughey, Richie Merritt, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jonathan Majors, Bruce Dern, and Piper Laurie. Released on September 14, 2018, the film is about a 14-year-old who becomes the youngest FBI informant in the 1980s.
The film is directed by Yann Demange, who also directed “`71” back in 2014. Well, here’s something I don’t hear everyday. A young teenager becoming not only an FBI informant, but a hustler and a drug kingpin as well, all before he reached the age of 16. This is another true story that I wasn’t familiar with until I saw a trailer for it a while back. I already became interested in it not just because of the stellar cast, but also because of its story behind the young man from Detroit. I was planning on seeing it sooner, but after a couple of days of critical planning, I decided to see “The Wife” instead and save “White Boy Rick” for another time…which is now. Was it worth the wait? Well…yes and no.
In typical fact-based fashion, the story chronicles the events that involve Rick Wershe Jr. (Merritt), including his relationship with his arms dealer father (McConaughey), leading up to his arrest in 1987. When a film is based on a true story, it seemed like an easy win for both critics and audiences. However, it takes more than being based on an actual event to become a suitable and engaging film. It needs to provide something that has the right amount of interest and emotion in order to make itself worth watching. Unfortunately, “White Boy Rick” had a really tough time providing that type of amount, resulting in a disappointing, yet well-acted, fact-based drama. Speaking of well-acted, the entire cast showed off their well-deserved efforts in keeping the film afloat. Matthew McConaughey was great as always as Richard Wershe Sr., and his chemistry with first-time actor Richie Merritt, who delivered some impressive talent onscreen as the title character, had enough empathy to drag any viewer out of the film's depressing and emotion-less hole. Yes, I did mean that the film can be a bit depressing at times. Not only that, but it also moves at a snail-like pace. This is one of the films where you have to pay attention to the story in order to understand what is going on with the characters, which is easy to do, but due to its inconsistent pacing, it can be somewhat of a chore, especially if you’re on the verge of falling asleep. My best advice I can give to you before you watch the movie is that you make sure you get enough sleep. I was honestly hoping that the story would have some redeeming moments that would surprise me, but for some reason, I just didn’t see them. I’m not saying that the story is bad, I’m saying that it’s a suitable story that fails to fully envision the events surrounding the title character.
Overall, the cast in “White Boy Rick” has enough qualities to carry its bland and disappointing biopic towards the end. I wouldn’t say that it’s terrible, but given its topic, it could’ve been told a lot better. I can only say that it’s worth watching for the cast alone and nothing else.