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The Forgotten Keanu Reeves Thriller Heating Up On Netflix

When the legal thriller "The Whole Truth" premiered back in 2016, it had a quiet release on VOD, an unimpressive run in theaters, and got middling reviews from critics. However, as is so often the case, Netflix viewers have decided to review the evidence and render another verdict. Despite flopping upon its initial release, the film is currently on the list of the top 10 most-watched movies on the platform.

Directed by "Frozen River" auteur Courtney Hunt and starring Keanu Reeves and two-time Oscar winner Renée Zellweger, "The Whole Truth" follows the court case of a young man from a wealthy family, Mike Lassiter (Gabriel Basso), who is accused of killing his cruel father. With a mountain of evidence stacked against him, Mike's trial seems all but certain to end in a conviction. However, as defense attorney Richard Ramsay (Reeves) digs into the details of the murder, things begin to unravel in unexpected ways. What at first seemed like an open-and-shut case suddenly becomes a whodunit that leaves Richard scrambling to determine where the truth actually lies.

While the film isn't considered a major entry into the legal thriller genre, it's not without its charms. In fact, Netflix viewers who have been giving it a second look are likely picking up on what several critics had to say when the movie first debuted. Despite the roundly lousy reviews, there were some who objected to the critical consensus and declared the movie worth a watch.

Why some critics found The Whole Truth worth recommending

Many critics reacted to "The Whole Truth" with a big "meh," which accounts for the film's 32% on Rotten Tomatoes. However, some found it to offer a refreshingly lived in and unglamorous take on the genre with strong enough performances to elevate the proceedings.

In a review for The Village Voice, Alan Scherstuhl called the film an "engaging courtroom drama." Hunt and screenwriter Nicholas Kazan were singled out for their choice to "smartly strip this pulp exercise of the theatrical excess so common to courthouse thrillers." They went on to say, "Here, the trial unfolds in the drab, bureaucratic spaces of actual legal proceedings ... Nobody dabs sweat off a forehead, and slanting sunlight never butters up the grind of justice."

Similarly, Michael Nordine of The Wrap wrote, "Hunt follows actual courtroom procedures more closely than most similar movies ... which makes the eventual revelations feel earned." Nordine also appreciated the use of flashbacks, noting, "The more [Hunt] zooms in on individual moments, the more we're able to step back and connect seemingly unrelated pieces of evidence."

And, while Dan Gunderman of The NY Daily News thought the movie "does fall victim to a number of genre tropes," they felt that the performances from Reeves, Zellweger, and the rest of the cast made the material work. They wrote, "Without the actors' inscrutable facial expressions and veiled cynicism, 'The Whole Truth' would simply end up a mistrial."

Determine your own judgment by checking out "The Whole Truth," which is currently streaming on Netflix.