Somewhere deep inside of Channing Tatum there’s an actor waiting to come out. While most film goers know him for big studio projects, most of them designed in a way to show him without a t-shirt on in the same way Matthew McConaughey has found himself, something occasionally leaks out. A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints and small roles in Public Enemies and Battle in Seattle showcased that the actor is more than just a pretty face and a good set of abs. There’s something more to him than being a pretty face of the moment; Tatum has some acting chops he occasionally displays when he’s not starring in studio drivel. The Son of No One is another role for the actor to showcase his acting chops.
Jonathan (Tatum) is a second generation cop assigned to the same Queens neighborhood he grew up in. Assigned to reopen a double homicide based off the handiwork of a reporter (Juliette Binoche) that implicates a cover up by the lead detective (Al Pacino) in the case, his father’s former partner, Jonathan is stuck in a quandary based on his past.
It’s an interesting film as it’s about a man coming to grips with the past, and his upbringing, but the shocking thing to all of this is the talent involved. You’d have thought that with Tatum, Liotta, Pacino and Tracy Morgan (amongst others) that this would’ve been a fairly substantial release in 2011. But unfortunately it wasn’t but it’s not a shame. Why?
It’s not good enough to try and find more than a niche audience.
The problem with The Son of No One is that Dito Montiel is too interested in recreating a crime version of Saints than he is in new material. Using similar techniques in layering the past to illuminate the present, Montiel seems to be establishing a style all his own. While he didn’t use the technique in Fighting that film felt less personal this film and Saints did. That was a studio film and these are indies, which can be more daring and filter a viewpoint through a narrower lens.
The film itself has interesting moments but unfortunately it feels more like a generic crime thriller going through the motions than anything else. There’s nothing to distinguish it from any number of films in the genre and it’s a shame because it feels fresher than most. Tatum is a good lead, in spite of the horrible moustache, and he gives an admirable performance. There’s hints of some talent being brought out and considering this is his third film with Montiel any brilliance in him would’ve come out by now. Montiel knows how to film Tatum and bring out more than just the pretty face lesser directors have done for him in the past; the fact that he’s a somewhat engaging lead instead of just a pretty face in big studio fare has to be an accomplishment in and of itself.
There’s a reason why The Son of No One never got a wide release: it doesn’t do anything interesting or unique in the genre.
There’s a Commentary Track with Montiel and Executive Producer/Editor Jake Pushinsky as well as some Deleted Scenes
If you’re a crime film aficionado, this is a nice but deeply flawed film in the genre.
Anchor Bay presents The Son of No One. Written and Directed by Dito Montiel. Starring Channing Tatum, Tracy Morgan, Al Pacino, Katie Holmes, Juliette Binoche, Ray Liotta. Running time: 94 minutes. Rated R. Released on DVD: February 21, 2012. Available at Amazon.com.