True Story Review – Kevin Hart shows off his dramatic chops playing a dramatized version of his life.
Kevin Hart is the biggest comedian in the world and also a blockbuster star. So, him playing the role of Kid, who is this world’s most famous comedian and burgeoning blockbuster star, is not a big leap. But despite the easy jump, Kevin Hart absolutely sticks the landing with some serious finesse in the Netflix Limited Series, True Story.
True Story is about the world’s most popular comedian and blossoming movie star, Kid. He is in his hometown of Philadelphia doing a show and reconnects with his brother Carlton (Wesley Snipes). The night gets a little wild, and the women Kid ends up with dies. Now Kid faces the dilemma of a scandal that could potentially ruin his career and reputation or something more dramatic that wouldn’t end the story within the first 30 minutes. The dramatic option is hiring a “fixer” type to get rid of the body, and it just so happens Carlton knows a guy, Ari (Billy Zane).
All seems to be going to plan until Ari asks for an absorbent amount of money. Rather than be indebted to Ari, Kid takes things into his own hands and kills Ari. This sets off a chain of events that continually stack on top of each other, creating a series of events that puts Kid, Carlton, and those around them through the emotional wringer. The series is full of mystery, intrigue, suspense, and truly heartbreaking betrayals and loyalty that make for excellent television.
The series has a lot of things going for it and is impossible to not enjoy. It has a compelling story that, while it takes the greater part of the first episode to do, hooks you in and does not let go. It has that strong intrigue that really grabs audiences, a signature now of series creator Eric Newman. On top of the story, an incredible part of how the story is told really enhances the dramatic impact of the series. Without giving way any direct spoilers, the penultimate episode has a noticeable shorter runtime. This shorter runtime in combination with a reveal amplifies the emotional blow in a profound way. Playing off the expectation to get a little more, being so unexpectedly and abruptly cut off really drives the nail into the coffin. It is a masterful use of the full release/streaming medium I have never witnessed and cannot applaud enough. The emotional toying of the change in episode length almost made my True Story review a perfect score.
On top of the gripping tale, all the players came to play. Kevin Hart continues to show his ability to entertain is not limited to laughter. It is funny how unfunny he is despite being a comedian. This is not to say there aren’t some jokes, Hart is playing what is undeniably a “version” of himself in a dramatized version of events from his actual life. While it did allow Hart to shine in his performance, it kind of irks me about his reputation. This series could easily be a confession, or double bluff, of some kind of things that have happened in his or someone’s life. If it did happen to Hart, he is truly not one who’s like should be messed with. I am sure it is largely fictional, but it kind of comes off as a “don’t mess with me or this will happen” vibe for Hart. Not that it’s even a bad thing, but the part might be too close to home to not associate the two. On the flip side, I do not believe anyone else could have brought the genuine heir of Kid to life as spectacularly as Hart, other than maybe Eddie Murphy in the ’80s or Martin Lawrence in the ’90s.
Wesly Snipes delivers an amazing character with Carlton, a man with many flaws. A truly capable person, who has been beaten down by life. It was a true gift to watch Cartlon struggle to deal with his problems as well as Kid’s, and how despite everything his love for his brother outshined it all. The chemistry of Snipes and Hart embodies the depth and complexities of sibling relationships. A truly superb story that captures how family is the greatest love and hurt many people have.
Outside of the series’ main two characters, Theo Rossi as superfan Gene, Tawny Newsome as joke writer Billie, and Chris Diamantopoulos and John Ales as Ari’s Greek Gangster Brothers, Nikos and Ditmar, all provide spectacular supporting characters. Diamoantopoulos and Ales are scary gangsters who do not care about celebrity status, locations, or witnesses when sending messages. They are ruthless and savage. Newsome as Kid’s joke writer and re-starting comedian serves as a great baseline for the series and characters. Her reactions to events direct the viewers to the magnitude of the drama. She also has a solid five she performs. Lastly, Rossi as Gene will have the audience pity him, then love him, before they cry for him. He starts out as a kind of awkward and creepy superfan, but after learning his story it seems less sad and pathetic, and he becomes not just more understood, but relatable. His arc is harrowing to say the least.
The only drawbacks to the series that make it into my True Story review, and it might just be a personal thing, but the series starts off a bit slow and the twist was not a surprise. Maybe I watch too much TV, which I definitely do, but I saw it coming immediately from the get-go. I think because the first episode is slow-paced and builds up a lot of the characters and relationships that it was obvious the series would go the way it did. It is still a powerful twist, but the surprise element lacking takes a point away for me.
True Story is a gripping thriller with emotionally powerful twists and turns. The series has Newman’s trademark dramatic draw that grabs audiences for an emotional thrill ride. A ride driven by the series leads, Hart and Snipes, who truly capture the highs and lows of family and are supported and made real by the rest of the cast. Though I found the big reveal to be obvious, it does not take away from the overall well-crafted and masterfully performed, story. It just loses a point for underwhelming the hype factor. My True Story review gets a 3.5/5
True Story premieres globally on Netflix on November, 24, 2021