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Film Review: Channing Tatum Stars in Inconsistent ‘The Son of No One’
CHICAGO – Director Dito Montiel and star Channing Tatum were once tagged with the label of the hot new debut artistic partnership. 2006’s great “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints” introduced both men to the world and it felt like it could be the calling card for a creative team to someday rival Scorsese & De Niro. Tatum reunited with Montiel on the disappointing “Fighting” and their latest venture, “The Son of No One,” while an improvement on Montiel’s sophomore slump, is nonetheless another misfire.
Of course, many readers will recognize Tatum from his more mainstream fare like “The Dilemma” and “G.I. Joe,” but he had such a instant screen presence in “Saints” that I always hoped he’d find his way to more gritty indie fare like “The Son of No One,” based on Montiel’s book. This is a challenging piece, a drama about hidden pasts and the changing face of an increasingly-dark New York City in the year after 9/11, and it’s the kind of piece that I would wager works significantly better on the page than it does on the screen. It’s the kind of role that I’d like to see Tatum take more often and he does nothing wrong here. In fact, he gives a more challenging, deep performance than he has in some time, clearly being invigorated by working with Montiel again. But the rest of the movie, especially the script and direction by Tatum’s friend, makes the actor’s quality work hard to see.
|Read Brian Tallerico’s full review of “The Son of No One” in our reviews section.|
The biggest problem with “The Son of No One” is a borderline-incoherent flashback structure. The film is constantly bouncing back and forth between 2002 and 1986 in a manner that never allows either time period to gel into something interesting. Montiel would have been wiser to trim the flashbacks or tell the story chronologically but the constant interchange between the two leads to a lack of rhythm and pace, two essential ingredients in a film like this one. This is a dark story in which we need to care about the characters and the way Montiel wrote and edited it makes that difficult to do. It’s messy when it needs to be engaging; choppy when it needs to draw us in.
Police Officer Jonathan White (Tatum) has been assigned to a rough new district but one that he knows all too well. When he was a kid (over-played by Jake Cherry), he lived in this bad neighborhood and he shot a man who was threatening his life. The police, including the former partner of the young White’s father, Detective Charles Stanford (Al Pacino), swept it under the rug, figuring the dead man wasn’t worth much anyway and that it might help to have a kid on the inside of the projects to help them out. Not long after, another scumbag ends up dead in a similarly justifiable, accidental manner. Sixteen years later, a reporter (Juliette Binoche) is investigating the unsolved crimes and threatens to upend White’s life. Ray Liotta plays his new Captain, James Ransome his partner, Katie Holmes his wife, and Tracy Morgan his childhood friend, one of the few people who knows the truth about what happened to the boy nicknamed “Milk.”
The Son of No One
Photo credit: Anchor Bay