HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Whole Truth
HTS Overall Score:64
I mentioned in my review of “Come and Find Me” that being a mediocre, middle of the road, film is not always a bad thing. Sometimes it’s better to stick with what you’re good at and not aspire to be anything greater. Especially when your skillset isn’t enough to make your efforts into a reality. Nothing is worse than a decent film that completely ruins the concept with a nasty “twist” that doesn’t pay off. Sadly, that’s the case with Keanu Reeves’ new thriller “The Whole Truth”. The 90% of the movie that comes before the final reveal is not an award-winning piece of cinema, but it manages to be a fairly straight forward court room drama that actually kept my attention. I was wondering where all of the bad reviews were coming from as I was certainly entertained. However, when someone throws in an M. Night Shamalamadingdong twist that twist BETTER work for the betterment of the movie. Not completely tank it and destroy all of the good will that came before it like we have here.
I had some decent expectations for “The Whole Truth” based upon Nicholas Kazan being listed as the main writer. Kazan hasn’t worked a whole lot recently but he was known for a lot of good stuff in the 80s and 90s, with hits like “Matilda”, “Bicentennial Man”, “Fallen”, “Reversal of Fortune” (a personal favorite of mine) and several others. I thought even if the direction was lackluster, Kazan’s expert script writing would elevate the project, and in a way, I was right. The direction by Courtney Hunt is nothing special, but Kazan’s writing makes a for a rather entertaining court room drama with enough twists and turns to keep the audience intrigued. However, that final twist is the elephant in the room. The 800lb gorilla that is picking its nose in the corner. No matter how much you like the rest of the film, it just completely obliterates any feeling of joy or good will towards the semi decent thriller, eviscerating it down from a “heh, that was pretty good” to “I never want to see this garbage again” rating.
The trailer gives us pretty much the whole back story. Keanu Reeves is playing a southern lawyer by the name of Ramsey who is charged with defending a near undefendable client. A young man by the name of Mike (Garbriel Basso) has been caught red handed with the murder weapon in his father’s murder. The father (played by Jim Belushi) was a big shot lawyer in the community and friends with Ramsey and his grieving widow (played by a nearly unrecognizable Renee Zellweger) has asked him to act as her son’s attorney. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the lawyer is going to have an easy job of it. The case is nearly open and shut. Mike was found on the scene, with the murder weapon, and admitted doing it to a police officer. To top it off, Mike has refused to speak with anyone during the whole trial and STILL refuses to speak even to Ramsey, his own defense attorney.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=88810[/img]With time ticking and the jury getting an earful from the prosecutor, Ramsey is forced to bring in high priced ivy league attorney Janelle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) to help sway the jury with her sex and ethnicity, as well as to serve as his personal lie detector in the case. However, as much as the two may struggle and fight, the overwhelming evidence still pushes down on top of Mike, and it will take a miracle, or at least the stretching of the truth, to get Mike out of this court room without a pair of handcuffs.
“The Whole Truth” is a decent thriller for the most part. It’s a fairly formulaic court room drama that plays things by the numbers (up until the last half an hour when things start to get wonky). We’re introduced to everyone via Ramsey acting as the films ever present narrator, and then we’re plopped right into the middle of the action without much ado. With that being said, the ending is what takes a semi decent idea and just runs it over and over again with a mac truck. Any mystery fan worth their salt can see the ending coming a mile away and it doesn’t help that it’s so hackneyed and amateurish that it just destroys all the energy and entertainment that has come before it (I won’t spoil WHAT it is, but the twist does make one want to bang their head against the wall I might add).
It’s a mixed bag acting wise. Keanu is fairly low key as Ramsey, and doesn’t overact like he likes to do some times. Instead he’s content to play his stoned “Bill & Ted” persona and blend in a bit of Neo for good measure. His droning narration helps explain things a good bit, but also tends to almost put you to sleep. Basso is great as the nearly mute defendant, but Renee Zellweger (who is near unrecognizable with so much plastic surgery) gives the film the only real energy and excitement it can afford. I won’t give them all kudus, but no one ever feels like they’re hamming it up or sleepwalking. Performances are very stable, but somehow the scripting and direction gives us a film that struggles to be anything more than B rated courtroom drama with a D rated ending.
Rated R for language and some violence including a sexual assault
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=88818[/img]According to my sources, “The Whole Truth” was shot on Arri Alexa cameras and features a fairly competent looking 1080p encode from Lionsgate. The court room drama tends to focus on close ups and shots in confined spaces, allowing for some excellent fine detailing to be present in shots. Wrinkles and lines in up close facials are well replicated and the color grading leans towards a grey/green tinge with a fairly desaturated hue to the colors. When we go back in time through “memories” there is distinctly golden coloring going on with bright colors and stronger saturation levels in an effort to make it seem more inviting and “heavenly” almost. Black levels are good, but not great, and show off plenty of good shadow detail with only a minor amount of washing out from the desaturated coloring. It’s a solid encode and I have no real qualms about the presentation on disc here.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=88826[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track on board the disc is once again, EXACTLY as I expected. “The Whole Truth” is a low budget court room drama and the movie just screams “front heavy, dialog dominant” experience. It is what it is. The dialog is strong and clean, and the court room with mulling voices gives ample room to bring in a few moments of choice surround usage, but overall this is a very talky film with mild use of LFE and surrounds. The bass adds some intensity with the score and compliments a few slamming doors and heavy footfalls, but by and large this is a dramatic track with all of the strengths and limitations that the genre is known for.
• Trailers for Lionsgate Films
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Ok, maybe not the best or the worst, but “The Whole Truth” kind of just suffers as a result of a terrible ending. I fully give the movie props for creating a fairly generic, but entertaining, court room spin for the first hour and 10 minutes, but I can NOT forgive it for an ending that shouldn’t have made it out of the back room into the filming process. Maybe that’s why Kazan refused to have his name attached to the film, I don’t know. Lionsgate’s Blu-ray is rather solid, with good audio and video, but sadly a VERY lackluster array of extras (only a handful of trailer for other movies). It makes for an ok rental if you’re curious, but there’s nothing in “The Whole Truth” that really begs an immediate rental or even a buy. Personally, I would skip it unless you have a desire to see any of the actors.
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Renee Zellweger, Gugu Mbatha-Raw
Directed by: Courtney Hunt
Written by: Nicholas Kazan
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Runtime: 93 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: January 17th 2017
Buy The Whole Truth On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Skip It
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