Director: Brad Furman
Cast: Johnny Depp, Forest Whitaker, Rockmond Dunbar
Release Date: June 8, 2021
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 7.5/10
Disc Rating: 7.5/10
What is worse, the crime or the cover-up? Based on the book, LAbyrinth, by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Randall Sullivan, this compelling crime-thriller follows the investigation into the infamous murder of iconic rap artist Christopher Wallace aka The Notorious B.I.G. Oscar® nominee Johnny Depp stars as determined LAPD detective Russell Poole, who spent nearly 20 years trying to solve the murder, and Oscar® and Primetime Emmy® winner Forest Whitaker as Jack Jackson, a journalist who teams up with Poole in search of the elusive truth. Together they explore why the case remains cold — and why a secretive division of the LAPD is seemingly set on keeping it that way.
Please Note: Saban Films provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Post. The opinions I share are my own.
‘City of Lies’ follows the dedicated investigation by LAPD detective Russell Poole (Depp) into the murder of Christopher Wallace aka The Notorious B.I.G., spanning two decades in which Poole refuses to relent or abandon the case. Resulting in the disintegration of his career and a secluded lifestyle, Poole reluctantly joins forces with journalist Jack Jackson (Whitaker) who is equally obsessed with the baffling lack of results and the rumors of cover-up deep within preventing the case from being solved. Together, the two attempt to find out why the case has remained cold as well as trying to uncover the reasoning and individuals responsible for keeping it that way.
Directed by Brad Furman (The Lincoln Lawyer, Runner Runner) from a screenplay by Christian Contreras which was based upon the book “LAbyrinth” by Randall Sullivan, Furman does a highly capable job at the helm of ‘City of Lies’ guiding along the tale with a fitting sense of gloomy unease sprinkled with a modicum of hope. The film also benefits significantly from a cast that features numerous talented actors and includes Johnny Depp (Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald), Forest Whitaker (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), Rockmond Dunbar (TV’s Sons of Anarchy), Dayton Callie (The Devil’s Carnival), Toby Huss (The Rental), Shea Whigham (Joker), Neil Brown Jr. (TV’s SEAL Team), Xander Berkeley (Faster) and Michael Paré (Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich) along with more, the majority each offering solid performances in their respective roles for the most part.
‘City of Lies’ is a tense, moving and thought provoking exploration of two men and their journey to uncover the truth behind one of the most perplexing decades-spanning cold cases around, and one that’s been in the public eye since it occurred. Always approaching the material and characters with (at least what appears to be) an unbiased perspective that never lets the more controversial questions go or pulls its punches when tackling some of the troubling material and scenarios surrounding the case; a factor that many speculate was at least part of the reason why the film was mysteriously pulled from release at one point prior to sitting on a shelf for some time (at least here in the states). Fortunately, thanks to Saban Films, we’re finally able to see the film and while it may not be the best film of the year, it’s a solid movie to say the least with plenty of heart and something quite important to say at its core. I would definitely urge anyone that’s already the slightest bit interested in this one, along with fans of Depp and/or Whitaker to try and find the time to give ‘City of Lies’ a chance whenever possible. It’s a powerful and well-acted thriller based on a compelling true story that’s well worth taking the time to check out one uneventful evening.
Overall, ‘City of Lies’ is an intriguing and powerful look at the dedication of two men determined to bring the truth to light surrounding one of the most curious cold-cases in recent memory, and the hurdles they must tackle in order to try and find the truth that many in power don’t want uncovered. ‘City of Lies’ is recommended, especially for fans of the lead stars as well as anyone intrigued by the baffling lack of closure that still makes the case prominent so many years later. It’s a well-crafted look at the events surrounding the mysterious and still unresolved murder that further benefits from a heartfelt approach and a collection of talented individuals both in front of and behind the camera. If you’re already intrigued by this one, it should at least be worth the price of a rental.
The Blu-ray release of ‘City of Lies’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation with the film’s original 2.39:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks quite good as a whole and even while some may be initially thrown by the dark and almost faded look of the video presentation, it appears to retain the intended visual style quite nicely without allowing any unexpected issues or problems to arise throughout. It holds up smoothly even during the various darkly lit moments and never allows anything occurring onscreen to become negatively affected, let alone rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a solid high definition video presentation that holds up competently throughout and should satisfy fans and first time viewers alike.
The Blu-ray release features a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This multichannel soundtrack offers a clean, sharp and occasionally somewhat aggressive audio presentation throughout. It takes advantage of all five available channels at each logical opportunity in order to send some music, vehicle activity and a few mild action effects throughout the various speakers while never causing any dialogue or other audio elements that might be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or rendered inaudible in the process. Overall, this is a nice 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack that delivers capably in every way required of it and shouldn’t disappoint.
The Blu-ray release of ‘City of Lies’ includes a few notable extras that fans of the film should appreciate. Included on the release is an ‘Audio Commentary with Director Brad Furman and Author Randall Sullivan’, along with a handful of ‘Deleted Scenes’ from the movie (running approximately 10 minutes in length altogether) and the Behind the Scenes Featurette ‘Crafting the Characters in City of Lies’ (running approximately 12 minutes).
*Please note that the above images are taken from the Blu-Ray and resized. They will additionally suffer quality loss as a result of .jpg compression. Larger versions of each image can be viewed by clicking on the image. All images and content included on this Blu-Ray release are the property of their respective owners.
Film Rating: 7.5/10
Disc Rating: 7.5/10
‘City Of Lies’ is Now Available to Own on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital from Saban Films
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