Russell Poole and Jack Jackson investigate the murders of rappers Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur.
Johnny Depp (Russell Poole), Forest Whitaker (Jack Jackson), Toby Huss (Detective Fred Miller), Dayton Callie (Lieutenant O'Shea), Neil Brown Jr. (Rafael Perez), Louis Herthum (City Attorney Stone), Shea Whigham (Frank Lyga), Xander Berkeley (Edwards), Melanie Benz (Jessica), Shamier Anderson (David Mack), Laurence Mason (FBI Agent Dunton), Christian George (Belsher), Michael Paré (Varney), Amin Joseph (Kevin Gaines), Josh Hardwick (Russell Poole, Jr.), Glenn Plummer (Psycho Mike), Keith Szarabajka (Sgt. Reese), Dominique Columbus (Tyrell), Angela Gots (Detective Amy Lefferts), Marisol Sacramento (Errolyn Romero), Rockmond Dunbar (Dreadlocks), Peter Greene (Commander Fasulo), Julanne Chidi Hill (Georgia Gaines), Wynn Everett (Megan Poole), Van Epperson (LAPD Desk Jockey), Christopher Aber (Juror), Markie Adams (Joanne), Aidiye Aidarbekov (Viewer), Chris Jai Alex, Obba Babatundé (Chief of Police), Max Bahmani (VIP Guest), James Beirne (Officer Bates), Ashleigh Biller (Poole's Daughter), Rian Bishop (Officer Simpyak), Rey Borge (Cashier), Kevin Chapman (Sgt. Leeds), Vince Chavez (Guy With Nachos / Poole Family Member), Jazzman Collins (Pool Guest), Antonio Raul Corbo (Young Russell Poole Jr), Mario Cortez (CHP Officer #2)...
From the same director
Paul Brennan (producer (as Paul M. Brennan)), Zanne Devine (executive producer), Troy Pestano Douglas (executive producer), Brad Feinstein (executive producer), Jess Fuerst (co-producer), Jeff Geoffray (executive producer), Bruce Wayne Gillies (line producer), Peter Hampden (executive producer), Joseph Ingrassia (executive producer), Kia Jam (executive producer), Jeffrey Konvitz (executive producer), Rosanne Korenberg (executive producer), Stuart Manashil (producer), Norman Merry (executive producer), Grant Mohrman (executive producer), Jill Rachel Morris (executive producer), Patrick Newall (executive producer), Daniel Rainey (executive producer), Miriam Segal (producer (produced by)), Don Sikorski (executive producer), Paula Turnbull (co-producer)
I must admit, what intrigued me about this movie was less the subject matter (I'm neither a big fan of rap nor conspiracy theories) but rather the fact that it was shelved after production. It just isn't that common for a big budget movie featuring A-list actors to get completely shelved--particularly in this day when Netflix and Amazon are always a way for studios to recoup production costs on movies they don't think will earn a profit. One had to wonder whether the movie was just a complete train wreck in terms of quality, or whether the content was just too controversial for the studios involved.
So I was eager to see for myself. Having seen it, it was a little disappointing in that it is neither a train wreck furthering nails into the coffin of Johnny Depp's disappearing career, nor was it particularly explosive in terms of content. It was a little above just "OK" (5.5 is a little more accurate than the 6 stars I ended up giving it). In terms of quality, it is reminiscent of Zodiac, but lacked the pathos that Fincher was able to imbue to characters who similarly couldn't put an unsolved murder behind them. In terms of content, Lt. Poole's story has been out there for quite some time and this adds nothing new.
The first half of the movie involves Depp and Whitaker reminiscing about the facts of the 18 years old case, which are related in a series of flashbacks. This part of the movie is successful and engrossing.
Unfortunately the 2nd half of the movie really stalls out, as one can't help but wonder what the two main characters have been doing over the past 15 years. Why are they still obsessed? What leads have they been trying to turn up? What compulsions are driving them?
Rather than explore this, the movie spends too long on a seemingly pointless side-plot about Poole's estrangement from his son and some seemingly minor troubles the reporter has with his boss and the police.
The finale is as unsatisfying as the actual investigation in the murder.
Again, the movie is OK, with the first half being engrossing and educational. But much like the actual case, it faltered in follow-up and resolution. Ultimately viewing it gave me no insight on why it was shelved. Everything about this affair seems like it deserved a better fate than it has received.
City of Lies ((original title); Spain) • City of Lies - L'ora della verità (Italy) • Melo miestas (Lithuania) • Город лжи (Russia) • Мiсто брехнi (Ukraine) • LAbyrinth ((working title))
Rated R for language throughout, some violence and drug use
Australia:MA15+ / Italy:T / Netherlands:12 / United States:R
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