White Boy Rick Blu-ray Review

White Boy Rick tells the compelling true story of a father and son living in the corrupt world of 1980s Detroit at the height of the War on Drugs and how their lives were forever changed by it.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

91

Details:

Studio and Year: Sony Pictures – 2018
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 111 minutes
Genre: Docudrama

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC
Video Aspect: 2.39:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio, French DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Richie Merrit, Bel Powley, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Brian Tyree Henry, Rory Cochrane
Directed by: Yann Demange
Music by: Max Richter
Written by: Andy Weiss and Logan & Noah Miller
Region Code: A,B,C

Release Date: December 25, 2018

“Based on the True Story”

Synopsis:

“Set in 1980s Detroit at the height of the crack epidemic and the War on Drugs, WHITE BOY RICK is based on the moving true story of a blue-collar father and his teenage son, Rick Wershe Jr., who became an undercover police informant and later a drug dealer, before he was abandoned by his handlers and sentenced to life in prison.” – Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

My Take:

White Boy Rick is based the true story Rick Wershe and his son Rick Jr. and, is takes place over a two to three-year period in the mid-1980s. It focuses on Rick, a single father who’s struggling to raise two teenagers during the height of the 80’s crack epidemic and how he makes ends meet by illegally selling guns from the trunk of his car. This leads to unwanted attention from the FBI which leads them to coerce Rick Jr. into working for them as an informant against the local dealers. This is the crux of plot, with subplots involving Rick’s crack addicted sister and his relationship with a high school crush.

White Boy Rick is a period docudrama that clearly aims to bring this unknown story to light, specifically, how this young teenager was used and thrown away by the local authorities in furtherance of their agenda. I found it to be interesting but, couldn’t help but question the depiction of how the events surrounding young Rick’s becoming an informant and the handling of someone so young without the knowledge of his parent. The narrative is sketchy on quite a few details, at times painting in broad strokes that would indicate that the answers were probably not known.

In terms of the film’s elements from an entertainment perspective I found it to be very good. It certainly didn’t drag and, provided a coarse and, eye opening picture of the time, its corruption and the meteoric rise of crack cocaine. I thought that Matthew McConaughey, Bel Powley and Richie Merritt, in the title role, were all excellent. White Boy Rick doesn’t resonate as deeply as I’d hoped but, provides enough of a story to bring its true-life events together. I think a better rendered script would have served it well.

Replay Value:

Parental Guide: 

The rating is for language throughout, drug content, violence, some sexual references and brief nudity.

AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

Video: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • Resolution/Clarity: 
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail: 
  • Color Reproduction: 
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression: 

 

Audio: 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • Dynamics: 
  • Low frequency effects: 
  • Surround Sound presentation: 
  • Clarity/Detail: 
  • Dialog Reproduction: 
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA

 

White Boy Rick comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and lossless DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio sound.

This is an excellent high definition rendering that sports plenty of fine detail and crisp definition that provides discerning dimensional perspective. Colors range from warm and vivid to cool, reserved and almost tonally neutral. This is obviously a creative decision that draws definitive visual boundaries and works quite well. Contrast is strong and blacks are deep without compromise to delineation. Shadowy areas exhibit excellent depth of field and visible gradational stages. The various wide-angle shots of the shooting locations look terrific. Other than some innate softening, I didn’t see any signs of video degrading artifacts or extraneous compression related noise.

This is primarily a dialog driven film however there are elements in the film that require use of the entire system so its ability to clearly render them is essential. Dialog is reproduced with transparent realism and lucid texture as it is appropriately balanced within the front soundstage. The surround mix utilizes the entire platform to recreate the many acoustic sounds associated with the environments portrayed onscreen. The rear channels contain a mixture of spatial ambience/musical extension as well as directional panning cues that effectively support the front soundstage. When called for there is a solid low end associated with the sequences involving gunfire. This is a complimentary audio presentation that mates well with the source material.

Bonus Features:

  • • 6 Deleted Scenes
    • Featurettes:
    o “The Unknown True Story of Rick Wershe Jr.”
    o “The Three Tribes of Detroit: The Cast”
    o “The Making of White Boy Rick”
    o Feature Trivia Track
  • Digital Copy

Final Thoughts:

Based on a true story White Boy Rick is a fairly entertaining docudrama that doesn’t thoroughly support its subject material, leaving it feeling uneven. It comes to Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring excellent technical merits and a decent supplemental offering. White Boy Rick musters enough entertainment value to qualify for a rental on movie night.

 

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems 

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