The Son Of No One (2011)

DVD Cover (Anchor Bay)
Dito Montiel Dito Montiel
Al Pacino Al Pacino
Channing Tatum Channing Tatum
James Ransone James Ransone
Ray Liotta Ray Liotta
Katie Holmes Katie Holmes

5.1 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres: Police Drama, Thriller
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Review by bluemeanie
Added: November 04, 2011
What an infuriating mess of a film this was from start to finish.

I remember when "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints" came out; what a terrific film, especially considering it was from a first time director, Dito Montiel. I thought this guy was really going to go places, maybe the next Scorsese. The praise being heaped on him was that high. Then came his follow up picture - "Fighting". Now, that was not a terrible film but it was certainly not what was being predicted. "The Son of No One" is Montiel's third film and has to be the most annoying and misdirected mess of a film I have seen in years. It's confusing, redundant and you never really know who knows what or how they know it - they just do. I guess that's supposed to be enough.

The typically lifeless Channing Tatum stars as Jonathan White, an NYPD police offer who gets transferred to his father's old precinct just in time for a local newspaper to start publishing letters from an anonymous contributor suggesting that the NYPD covered up two murders in the projects in 1986. Through flashbacks we learn pretty early that Jonathan is the person who committed both murders, though he seemingly had cause for both. His captain (Ray Liotta) wants to get the letters to stop and his deceased father's old partner, Detective Stanford (Al Pacino) is the one who covered up the murders in the first place. Basically, the film is about -- well, I am not sure what the film is about. The actors seem to be clueless as well. Did Montiel even know when he wrote the film?

Nothing makes sense in this film. We never know if the Ray Liotta character knows anything - and then when we find out, we don't know how much or really how he came to know it. At the end of the fun, an inexplicable time jump ties everything up in a blood-soaked bow but it is never really explained how any of that happened. Did Doc Brown sweep in and magically transport people to a different place and time? And how in the hell does Channing Tatum's character not recognize Ray Liotta's voice on the phone? It's Ray Liotta! Not disguising his voice at all. It would be like Sam Elliot calling your house and your not knowing it was Sam Elliot. Come on. And the big 'reveal' as to the writer of the letters - you cannot make it the character that no one remembers is even a character.

All of that said - sometimes performances can save a film. Not here. No one is given enough of a character to build a performance. Channing Tatum gets the most and he brings all of his same tricks to the table. Liotta and Pacino are wasted with one-note roles that require next to nothing from them. Same for Katie Holmes who is relegated to the role of the frustrated wife. The only performance that rises above comes from - brace yourselves - Tracy Morgan as Tatum's childhood friend who now suffers from a host of mental instabilities. There's no trace of the Tracy Morgan we know from SNL and "30 Rock" and he delivers a solid and affecting dramatic performance.

Clocking in at a precise 88-minutes, this film feels like it was longer and got hacked down to the point where it no longer makes sense and cannot be saved. And what's with Pacino and this string of pointless dirty cop films that never amount to anything and only further to tarnish a once great legacy. Eastwood did this for a while in the 90's and then wised up and started winning Oscars for directing. I hope Pacino can do the same because films like this are just plain beneath him. "The Son of No One" is a terrible film on a variety of levels. Nothing frustrates me more as a movie-goer than a film that doesn't even bother to make sense to itself. 2/10.
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