REVIEW: ‘The Son of No One.’ Channing Tatum Is a Tortured Cop With a Tortured Mustache, Stuck in a Movie That Makes No Sense
Anchor Bay Films
2. This is the type of movie that Vinnie from "Entourage" would have made against the advice of his agents and posse, simply because it's about Queens. Montiel -- whose "A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints" was equally heartfelt, if similarly (if not as drastically) inert in every possible dramatic fashion -- decided to make his Big New York City Cop Movie, complete with every trope, from the crooked department brass to childhood sins behind revisited as an adult to the ethnic cauldron bubbling up within every New York neighborhood to some truly impressive mustaches. (Some of those things defy gravity.) Montiel, ever ambitious, ups the ante here by setting the film in the year after September 11 in order to ... you know, I'm not sure why he did that. To infuse his film with some higher importance? To come up with an excuse to CGI Al Pacino into a scene with Rudy Giuliani? Because he happened to have it in his brain when he sat down to write the script? Whatever the reason, it was a terrible decision: It's irrelevant to the movie's plot, and it sets up an expectation of gravitas that this movie doesn't come close to approaching. I think Montiel just thought it would make his film seem more "serious."
Anchor Bay Films
3. Channing Tatum, who has given his best performances in Montiel's films ("Saints," as well as "Fighting") is sturdy and game in the lead role, even if the movie doesn't have the foggiest idea what he's supposed to be doing. As a child, Tatum's Jonathan White, living in a tough Queens project, was attacked by a junkie and successfully fought him off and killed him; because this is a particularly tough project, he does it again a few days later. Now, you might think, "Well, jeez, that's sort of pretty forgivable for a 10-year-old kid to kill a couple of junkies attacking him," but not so in the universe of "The Son of No One." Here, it's Original Sin, the haunting "cold-blooded killing" that White desperately wants hidden (and a mysterious letter writer is threatening to expose). Even his late father's partner -- played by a bored Al Pacino -- helps cover up the murder, as if young Jonathan were a budding Ed Gein, rather than a scared kid trying to protect himself. The movie never resolves this gaping issue: Why doesn't someone just say, "Hey, he was a kid in the projects and he got attacked. Maybe he wasn't evil?" It's indicative of the sloppy plotting in general: Montiel just asks us to accept it and move on.