Blu-ray Review: The Whole Truth (2016)

By , Contributor
The Whole Truth arrives on Blu-ray January 17, 2017 (via Lionsgate Films) and will likely draw attention from fans of its stars Keanu Reeves and Renée Zellweger. First, a word of respect for Truth's writer-director Courtney Hunt. Her 2008 crime drama (and directorial debut) Frozen River received heaps of praise and awards, including an Oscar nomination for Hunt (Best Original Screenplay). But that was more than eight years ago. Why the competent-but-uninspired The Whole Truth was settled upon as a follow-up is anyone's guess.

Fans of Frozen River (which also garnered an Oscar nom for Melissa Leo) are probably in the 'pre-sold' category along with the Keanu fans. However, the film plays like a Law & Order two-parter. That's not to say it's bad, just that it doesn't feel particularly cinematic. Or nuanced. Or, if we're being totally honest, all that memorable. Maybe it's partly because Hunt didn't write this time. The screenplay is by veteran writer Nicolas Kazan (who, to give credit where it's due, is also an Oscar-nominee for 1990's Reversal of Fortune). 
rsz_whole_truth_bd.jpg Keanu Reeves stars as defense lawyer Richard Ramsey. We meet Richard as he's in the midst of defending teenager Mike (Gabriel Basso), accused of murdering his own father in what appears to be an open-and-shut case. So vicious and apparently without motive (the defendant has remained virtually mute throughout the trial) was Mike's crime, prosecutor LeBlanc (Jim Klock) is going at him with gusto. Mike's mom Loretta (Zellweger) watches helplessly as her son, who seems indefensible, awaits his fate.

Greenhorn lawyer Janelle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw; Free State of Jones, TV's Touch) is brought in to assist Richard with the case. She eventually smells a rat as previously unknown details of the case begin to emerge. We also meet Mike's super-rich businessman father Boone (Jim Belushi) via flashbacks. Boone seems a bit sleazy—what with his alleged fudging of chartered flight manifests in order to accommodate female passengers of potentially questionable repute—but it's difficult to understand why he was murdered. A couple of passably surprising twists enliven the third act of this routine courtroom thriller. None of the actors, least of all Zellweger in a truly thankless role, seem especially taxed by this material.

Lionsgate's Blu-ray represents The Whole Truth's modest audio/visual aspirations quite well. Audio is offered as a subtle DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround mix. There are no special features. The Blu-ray package includes a Digital HD download.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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