The true story of Russell Poole, the LAPD detective who investigated the murder of Notorious B.I.G. and uncovered a wave of police corruption.
City of Lies (2021)
Directed by Brad Furman
Written by Christian Contreras
Starring Johnny Depp, Forest Whitaker, Toby Huss,
Dayton Callie, Shea Whigham, Xander Berkeley,
Shamier Anderson, Neil Brown Jr., Amin Joseph
Based on the book LAbyrinth by Randall Sullivan
City of Lies was shelved indefinitely back in 2018 after Johnny Depp got in a fight with a crew member and charges were filed. It took three years, but the film was finally put back on the calendar and thanks to Covid, it probably won't be seen by a lot of people. But I saw it, because I'll see anything, and it was a solid biopic that is going to piss off a lot of people. Much like Zodiac, it doesn't have a definitive conclusion, but the conjecture it presents is intriguing and allows you to come to your own conclusions.
In 1997, shortly after the murder of Tupac Shakur, Notorious B.I.G. was gunned down outside a party in L.A. Detective Russell Poole (Depp) was put on the case and his investigating led him to uncover a deep cesspool of police corruption. As of now, the murders of Tupac and Biggie are still unsolved, but not for lack of trying. If Poole is to be believed, Death Row Records leader Suge Knight had gang members who infiltrated the LAPD and murdered Biggie on his orders. The film takes you through Poole's investigation, accusations of police officers, and his forced retirement. When he encounters journalist Jack Jackson (Whitaker), Poole tells his story and reinvigorates Jack's journalistic integrity. Both Depp and Whitaker are fantastic, and their story is fascinating.
City of Lies tells an interesting story that ultimately can't be proven true or false. It's the bane of films made about open cases. We don't get closure because there's none to be given. But for what the film had to work with, it pulls off a solid story. It makes me wonder if the reason this film was shelved goes beyond a minor assault charge. It doesn't exactly paint the LAPD in the greatest light, and it hammers home the idea that police corruption aided in Biggie's murder. Ultimately, you just have to reach your own conclusion.