Following an ex-detective named Detective Russell Poole (Johnny Depp), who used to work for Los Angeles Police Department, the film begins with an introduction to the character. Detective Poole is no longer on the force and is now an older, retired man living alone. Although he is no longer a detective, this does not stop him from trying to solve one of the biggest cases in his career. Soon the retired detective is approached by a reporter named Jack Jackson (Forest Whitaker), who is also passionate about finding the truth. Soon the two will share discussions and relive the major investigation, revising all Poole’s clues and findings. The end results are quite shocking as they both discover a city filled with corruption.
For those who are not aware, City of Lies is based on the book entitled ‘Labyrinth’ which was written by Randall Sullivan and focuses on the murder investigations of both Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. While I was not personally aware of all the details surrounding the two rappers and the horrific murders, I was curious to know the outcomes and findings. A back story begins with us seeing a much younger Detective Poole getting handed this crime and mystery to solve.
I thought the performances and chemistry on screen from both Johnny Depp and Forest Whitaker were great. The two characters develop a genuine friendship, and I loved witnessing their determination grow on screen as we watched them attempt to find the truth while dealing with consistent roadblocks. It is these two performances that I found to be a rewarding element while watching. I was also pleased to see this film used real footage during key scenes, making it feel quite raw and dramatic.
Visually, I enjoyed the film’s gritty and dark tones. I also enjoyed how the film is more focused on delivering thrills and elements of drama. I even found one scene around the film’s third act quite suspenseful and unpredictable.
Overall, having been personally unfamiliar with this true story, I found this film fascinating. Those who enjoy a good crime story will certainly enjoy this film. As a bonus, it also includes solid performances. I was fairly surprised and pleased with this feature film.