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Case Number 06170: Small Claims Court

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Truth Be Told

Lionsgate // 2002 // 83 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Maurice Cobbs (Retired) // February 11th, 2005

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All Rise...

Judge Maurice Cobbs finally managed to stay awake during this movie long enough to review it.

The Charge

Sometimes, getting to the truth can be murder.

The Case

Sometimes, bad movies can be murder, too.

Not that I have anything against bad movies, per se. Sometimes, bad movies have a certain kind of charm that makes them just as enjoyable as the good ones. Take Double Dragon (please!), or Street Fighter, or the 1990 version of The Punisher (not to be confused with the equally crappy but not nearly as much fun 2004 version)—bad movies all, but nonetheless entertaining because of it. Mediocre movies, on the other hand, have nothing really at all to recommend them; they don't even entertain by virtue of their badness. Truth Be Told definitely falls into the latter category.

Truth Be Told, initially called Turnaround, no doubt because that was the wise advice given to unsuspecting movie fans who were warily approaching this film. Truth Be Told, also previously known as Final Breakdown, perhaps because the movie breaks down on so many levels throughout. How many times can you fall asleep during a crime thriller before you call it a stinker? For me, the count was four—and I watched this movie in the middle of the afternoon. Truth Be Told, this movie is the worst sort of bad movie—the boring kind.

The convoluted so-called plot revolves around investment company secretary Rayne Johnson (Regina King, Daddy Day Care), lone survivor of a bloody mob shoot-out, who finds herself in danger not only from the mob but from a pair of crooked cops (Blair Underwood, Full Frontal, and Craig Sheffer, A River Runs Through It) as well. Using her wits, Rayne plans to come out on top of the situation—if she can stay alive long enough. And if the audience can stay awake long enough. Naturally, Rayne falls in love with one of the crooked cops, while the other tries to placate the mob while looking for their stash of stolen money.

Honestly, I haven't got a problem with Blair Underwood (please don't confuse him with Jay Underwood—they're not even related). I haven't got a problem with Craig Sheffer, either. I even have no animosity toward Regina King…she was Brenda on 227, man! They're all pretty good actors; Underwood cameoed in the hysterical Fronterz before exploding back onto the small screen as Roger De Souza on NBC's LAX. Sheffer's been, shall we say, a little less fortunate; Dracula II: Ascension is absolutely one of those "good-bad" movies I was talking about earlier. But what the heck is this Tarantino wannabe crap?

I call it a Tarantino wannabe, but perhaps that's a little unfair. If it were trying to ape Tarantino, it might display a little bit of style or something. As it is, Truth Be Told is so average, so thoroughly unremarkable in every way, that I wonder if director Jeff Byrd (who directed documentaries for the Indiana Jones Trilogy and Untouchables: Special Edition DVD releases) wrote the script with Cheryl Dunye, Eric George, and Nia Hill using a sort of "Mad Libs" approach: "Next, Rayne _____________________________ (decides she's in love with, double crosses, buys a mocha latte for) Detective Stratten. Stratten _______________________ (decides he's in love with her, puts a bullet in her head, demands his change back)."

I will admit that I loved certain little details about the movie, like the rather cavalier way that the cops shoot up the bus station at the start of the movie…they don't look excited, or frightened, or anything. One of them doesn't even bother to take cover; that stuff's for sissies, I guess. They just sort of blithely shoot away, heedless of the civilians trapped inside. Then again, these are supposed to be L.A. cops. I also like the way that Sheffer's Detective Stratten drives really really fast everywhere he goes; I suppose if a place is worth going to, it's worth going to in a hurry. But even these delightfully strange aspects of the movie can't push it over into the "good" column. This movie's a loss.

It could very well be that director Byrd was absolutely serious about wanting to do a hard-edged, hard-hitting thriller…but I can't help but think that this is the sort of movie that is actually created to fill empty spaces on video store shelves, warming places for better films. Nobody seriously expects people to rent these movies, much less buy them…is there such a thing as the Island of Misfit Movies? If not, I'm afraid that Truth Be Told is doomed to sit there, lonely on the video store shelf, and wait…

And wait…

And wait…

Truth Be Told. Final Breakdown. Turnaround. Crap by any other name is just as stinky.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 45

Perp Profile

Studio: Lionsgate
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 83 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Bad
• Crime
• Drama

Distinguishing Marks

• None


• IMDb

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