Review by Bradley Smith
At my day job, I sit at a computer roughly 7-9 hours a day. For a little amusement, I installed a screen saver that replicates the Matrix Code if left inactive for 2 minutes. Point being I love The Matrix films and their spin-offs/tie-ins and everyone connected to them, including Keanu Reeves. Conversely, I have been worn out by the over-saturation of court-room dramas in the last decade or so, more so on television than film, and tend to find most such stories boring or repetitive. So I had mixed feelings about a court room drama starring Keanu Reeves. However, after watching the new movie The Whole Truth, I have been reminded that court room dramas can occasionally be interesting and surprising given the right cast and storytelling style.
Keanu Reeves plays defense attorney Richard Ramsey. Ramsey is defending 17-year-old Mike Lassiter, who is on trial for the murder of his father. Mike has not spoken to anyone, including his lawyer, since his father’s death, leaving Ramsey little recourse but to develop his defense on the fly during trial. Aiding him is a younger lawyer just starting her career and eager to learn and find out the whole truth instead of just getting her client acquitted; but what she learns about actually trying a case may dishearten her for life.
The case itself probably will not be unique to fans of court room dramas; though I was a bit surprised by at least one revelation. What brought this film up to an enjoyable level was the acting by Reeves, Renee Zellweger (Bridget Jones), and Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Doctor Who, Touch, Larry Crowne). Mbatha-Raw is the younger lawyer torn between wanting to be a good lawyer and wanting to pursue the truth. Zellweger plays Loretta Lassiter, the mother of Mike and widow of Boone Lassiter (played in flashbacks by Jim Belushi who makes for a pretty convincing despicable person who could probably lead anybody to snap).
In addition to acting in the film, Reeves also provides character voice over to give a little insight into Ramsey’s thoughts and random tidbits about the law or trying a case, among other things. It is an interesting commentary-type storytelling that adds gravity to the film and gives thought-provoking treats to potentially dull scenes.
I recommend this film (at least mildly) for the top-notch acting and interesting story which may keep casual viewers guessing until the end. I do have one gripe that bugs me about most murder-mysteries (not exclusive to this film), but talking about it in too much detail would potentially spoil the film. I will just say that trying to figure out a murder mystery before the story tells it to you proves difficult when key details are hidden. So, don’t try to figure out the whole truth, just enjoy the ride.