By Andrew Ayala
“White Boy Rick” is the Hollywood version of the true tale of Richard Wershe Jr, a Detroit drug dealer and informant at the age of 14. The film was directed by Yenn Demange and written by Andy Weiss, Logan Miller and Noah Miller.
The story of Richard Wershe Jr. is an interesting tale of a boy who became a Federal Bureau of Investigation informant at the age of 14 in the 1980s.
He had sold drugs for them until the age of 16, and then began selling them himself. He was arrested at the age of 17 in 1988 and has been in jail ever since due to the Rockefeller Drug Laws in Michigan.
The version on the big screen has its ups and downs in many ways. It stars a cast that did a wonderful job on character portrayal such as Richie Merritt, making his acting debut as Richard “White Boy Rick” Wershe Jr., Matthew McConaughey as Richard Wershe Sr., Bel Powley as Rick’s sister Dawn Wershe.
The Curry brothers were played by Jonathan Majors as Johnny “Lil Man” Curry, YG as Leo “Big Man” Curry, and RJ Cyler as Rudell Boo Curry.
The film begins with a scene of Richard Sr. and Rick purchasing weapons from a gun show.
Right off the bat, viewers see the bond between father and son and can realize that Richard Sr. is an arms dealer who creates weapon attachments, such as silencers.
Eventually viewers get to see how Rick becomes involved with the Curry brothers and realize his harsh living conditions push him to live a crooked lifestyle.
His father can barely make ends meet and his sister is being consumed by the crack epidemic that was going on in Detroit in the `80s.
The emotion can be shown in scenes where there is no dialogue but the background and the shade of lighting chosen adds to the overall feel.
When the Curry brothers begin to attract some heat due to recent murders, the FBI arrives at Rick’s house and begin questioning Richard Sr. about the weapons he sells.
FBI Agent Snyder played by Jennifer Jason Leigh and FBI Agent Byrd played by Rory Cochrane then begin to question Rick to see if he knows anything about the people in the pictures they are showing him.
Rick doesn’t comply much but his next encounter with them includes Detective Jackson played by Brian Tyree Henry and the two agents asking Rick to be an informant and start selling drugs.
Throughout the film viewers get a good sense of the time this was all taking place and the tone changes appropriately.
This is when Rick begins his journey into the drug world and starts letting it take over little by little.
The power, the money and the women all began to get his head, since he was such a young kid and had never been exposed to this lifestyle.
The film shows his infatuation with these things but not to a grand scale. Eventually, the Curry brothers and their gang get caught due to a shooting and the FBI says they are done with Rick.
After finding out he has a child and realizing the responsibility he has gained, Rick continues to sell drugs to make money for his family.
The films story is pretty close to the true story only it takes creative license with showing the realities of what living a life like Rick’s can be like.
These simple missteps do not do the actual events any justice at all.
As the film progresses we get to see how Rick feels and thinks but if the story had delved a little further into his thought process, it might have made for a more moving film.
The actors with smaller roles helped define the movie and were impactful in their scenes.
These characters added the extra emotions certain scenes needed, or even lightened the mood of the film such as what Bruce Dern did with his role as Grandpa Roman “Ray” Wershe.
Although this film seemed to have big messages such as the injustices of our justice system or loyalty to family, there were many other themes that could be taken from this film which is great when it comes from a true story.
Viewers will be able to decode these messages that are hidden throughout the film and may even be able to relate to some of them to a lesser extent.
One thing that could have improved would be to get a more personal view on some of the main characters lives.
This would allow for some key points that weren’t highlighted as much to get the time they needed on screen.
The story is put together very well, but definitely starts off stronger than it ends. The film didn’t do a terrible job at telling the story of Rick and the audience can get the jist of the true story.
It is decent for a one time viewing in theater but can definitely wait until it is out on Netflix or for rental.
“White Boy Rick” was released on September 14 and is rated R for language throughout, drug content, violence, some sexual references and brief nudity.