For every John Wick, Keanu Reeves seems to have a film that goes straight to video, or spends two minutes in the multiplex, only to be quickly forgotten. In the latter category, The Whole Truth, is an occasionally engrossing courtroom thriller, but a misguided ending and Reeves’ wooden delivery makes what could have been an interesting examination of a family in crisis, difficult to recommend.
Richard Ramsay (Reeves) is the lawyer for seventeen-year-old Mike Lassiter (Gabriel Basso) charged with murdering his wealthy father Boone (Jim Belushi). Ramsay job is made even tougher because the young man hasn’t spoken since the night of the murder; officers found him next to the stabbed body of his father, Mike’s prints on the knife, his mother Loretta (Renée Zellweger), nearby and convinced of his innocence. Because his client isn’t talking, Ramsay and his young colleague, Janelle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) have little choice but to formulate a case based on the evidence they have, keeping in mind Ramsay’s theory that everybody hides something.
While screenwriter Rafael Jackson keeps much of the action inside the courtroom, the audience is given flashbacks as to what occurred–or might have occurred from the point of view of each witness on the stand. Even the smattering of scenes of scenes that take place outside the courtroom involve flashbacks, which serves to add a cohesiveness to the story.
Keanu Reeves does an admirable job as a small-town lawyer. A friend and confidant of the Lassiter family, Boone taught him the ins-and-outs of being a lawyer. While he Ramsay was allowed into their inner circle, over the course of the trial he comes to realize that while Boone was loved and reviled simultaneously by colleagues, he failed to realize how bad life was at home for Loretta and Mike. Zellweger too, does a good job of fleshing out her character. She is a sympathetic woman who accepted her husband’s abuse, but has a certain strength when defending her son.
The Whole Truth asks that the audience judge the characters strictly on their actions. The film pulls no punches around the fact that Boone was a bad man. However, the question is whether he was murdered at the hands of his son. So, after watching all of this, the audience must decide, if they were Mike, could they have done what he is accused of.
Aside from the big reveal at the end, the film has one major flaw. The decision to make Ramsay the narrator is an unfortunate one. Reeves’ reading of the dialogue is awful. Maybe he was having a bad day, but Keanu sounds as flat and uninspired as they come. Gugu Mbatha-Raw is underutilized, while she’s given a past, it’s not tied into anything in the story, so it feels unnecessary. Her character could probably be cut from the story without missing a beat. It’s too bad the final reveal isn’t much of a surprise here, because The Whole Truth has some real moments of tension.
Presented in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio, Lionsgate has delivered a fairly pleasing 1080p transfer. While some interiors showed slight softness, sharpness was pretty good. Shadow delineation was impressive and the color palette appeared appropriate. While Blacks weren’t exactly inky, they were plenty dark. Low light shots had a nice level of clarity. There are no apparent print flaws.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack isn’t anything special, but it does the job. This is a dialogue driven movie, so the limited sounds cape doesn’t pose much of an issue. Music and effects aren’t given a lot to do, but dialogue is clean and clear. There’s nothing to really complain about here.
English SDH and Spanish subtitles are included.
The following extras are available:
- Digital HD.