An incredible true story of Richard Wershe Jr, the teenage gangster that became infamous for ultimately being sentenced to life in prison during the 1980’s, after getting engulfed in drug-trafficking. Richie Merritt, puts in a superb acting debut as Richard Wershe Jr – indicating that this will most definitely not be the last we’ll see of the young actor.
Director: Yan Demange
Writers: Andy Weiss, Logan Miller, Noah Miller
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Richie Merritt, Bel Powley
In terms of strengths, the movie manages to take the viewer through a range of emotions throughout – it had entertainment value and was suspenseful in stages, along with depressing, yet realistic undertones, tied in with the extremely impactful life lessons in regards to the corruption of United States law enforcement, which has been documented over and over in similar stories.
At times you’d be forgiven for feeling large amounts of empathy towards the Wershe family, which was spearheaded by Wershe Snr (Matthew McConaughey), who delivered yet another outstanding performance in his role. From the off, you manage to grasp the struggles of the family after witnessing the early stages of a torturous downfall undertaken by the young Dawn Wershe (Bel Powley). We see her abandoning her family home early on, only to undertake recovery (assisted by her Father) later down the line. The pair were involved in certain poignant scenes that many people would find emotionally upsetting.
With that being said, Wershe Jr (Richie Merritt) was every bit believable as the then fifteen-year old gun dealer turned gangster, who found himself at the heart of a criminal gang in a low income part of Detroit, Michigan. Strangely however, you’d often find yourself rooting for him – potentially because of the impact his actions would have on the family supporting him and the soft spot most would have on Wershe Snr and co.
All in all, a really good movie that was heart wrenching and toyed with your emotions throughout. Without question there were moments where you were hoping desperately for a happy ending, but with this being a well documented true story, the possibility of that looked rather bleak, especially if you’re in the know with the story already.
“You know how many kids have died in this neighborhood cause of drugs? I’m not going to let you ruin your life, Dawn. No drugs in the goddamn house…”Richard Wershe Snr – White Boy Rick