BLU-RAY REVIEW: The Son of No One
Dynamic cop drama hits home video featuring Channing Tatum and Tracy Morgan...
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There are so many cop dramas and procedurals out there, it's gotten to the point where only those worthy of attention get watched. So the real question is what makes a cop movie worth watching? Personally, I'm a fan of films with dynamic plots and engaging characters cast with actors who push their boundaries and feel real. Thankfully, writer/director Dito Montiel's The Son of No One does all of these...to a certain extent.
Featuring an impressive cast including Channing Tatum, Tracy Morgan, Katie Holmes, Ray Liotta, Juliette Binoche, and Al Pacino, The Son of No One draws inspiration from past cop dramas but sets about doing things at its own pace and with an original plot and setting. Based in Queens in the months after 9/11, when NYC's public servants could essentially do no wrong, The Son of No One finds rookie cop Jonathan White's traumatic and violent past coming back to haunt him.
The son of an officer killed in the line of duty, White finds himself transferred from Staten Island to Queens, his father's old precinct, after letters regarding two unsolved murders in the Queensboro projects, White's childhood home, begin gaining media attention. His father's ex-partner and current Police Commissioner (Pachino) as well as the incoming Commissioner (Liotta) want the press attention gone. Thus police work and politics suddenly become intertwined with bloody, violent results.
Original in its plot and setting, The Son of No One deliberately delivers action and drama spread out slowly over the film's 94 minutes. Writer/director Montiel seems in no hurry to explain anything and this lack of urgency may turn off some viewers used to the rushed and sometimes forced action and plot development seen in other cop dramas. Thankfully, the film forces us to feel - like the story's main character, Officer White - agitated, frustrated, and even at times angry at the lack of development. Though this may be unintentional, I personally though it was brilliant and made for an engaging film.
The full story of the double murder is told through flashbacks to 1986. We watch as a young White (Jake Cherry in a near flawless performance) and his friend Vinny Carter (played by the outstanding Brian Gilbert) develop a friendship that would, 16 years later, have tragic results. While Tatum's portrayal of Officer White is well done and both Liotta and Pacino are great, it's Tracy Morgan's role as the adult Vinny that stands out in The Son of No One. Though his scenes are few and far between, Morgan plays the depressed, mentally unstable abuse victim perfectly.
The film's video transfer is gorgeous, with deep dark colors, tight lines, and bold, lush colors. Likewise, the film's Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack delivers exactly where and how it should. As The Son of No One is more police drama than actioner, the dialogue and sound effects primarily generate from the front channels, with rear channels saved for setting surround sound and violent action effects (such as the police station, city street, etc).
As for special features, the disc includes only three: the film's trailer, a couple of deleted scenes, and a fairly standard audio commentary with writer/producer/director Dito Montiel and executive producer/editor Jake Pushinsky. Both Montiel and Pushinsky chat about everything from the actors, characters, and crew to the film's sets, the plot, and shooting on location.
For most movie fans, The Son of No One will be a renter at best. It's slow pace and lack of development will turn off some fans. However, for others who can stand this and want to see what an original cop drama is like, look no further. While there are no major gun battles, no CSI crews, or intensive manhunts, The Son of No One features a heart-wrenching story that's a morality play. Worthy of your time, The Son of No One isn't like other cop dramas and instead delivers on pure mood, drama, and pacing. Its slow, deliberate story combined with its moody, somewhat disjointed acting makes it one of the more interesting cop films I've seen in a very long time.
The Son of No One is rated R for Violence, perverse language, and brief disturbing sexual content and is available on blu-ray and DVD wherever fine home video is sold.
- Jess C. Horsley