6 March 2012 | LloydBayer
Written and directed by Dito Montiel and based on a novel of the same name, "The Son of No One" is a mystery thriller that should have never been made into a movie.
Set in 2002, Queens, the son of a former NYPD detective, Jonathan White (Channing Tatum) is a hardworking rookie cop, providing for his wife and daughter, when new evidence on a 1986 double homicide grabs the attention of Captain Marion Mathers (Ray Liotta). Complications arise when Jonathan is confronted by his father's former partner, Detective Stanford (Al Pacino), where evidence from a mysterious source trails back to Jonathan as a troubled child. Even as he struggles to come to terms with his past, Jonathan learns that there are forces working at shutting this cold case once and for all.
Evidently, writer/director Montiel tries to fit a lot of fine print into the screenplay. The problem, as I see it, is that this becomes all too obvious very early in the movie; Owing to which, the so called 'twist ending' results in a very half-baked offering that totally ruins any saving grace from the likes of Pacino and Liotta. Demons in the closet, or ghosts of the past, or whatever you call it, form the very gist of the story, where Montiel tries to prove that sometimes it is best not to dig up the past. That being the case, Montiel then goes on to contradict himself by also throwing in themes of redemption and absolution. This clash in philosophy fractures the film's main plot beyond repair and by the time the twist is revealed, it is way too late to salvage anything. Making a police drama within the crime genre is always interesting when the plot is about dirty cops, police cover-ups, and as we have seen many times before, a cop on the edge. To an extent, Montiel gets it right by including all this into the plot, yet somehow, his main failure is in bridging all this together.
For this reviewer, a film's story forms the bulk of its appeal. It's like a deck of cards really; if the foundation is shaky, the entire structure crumbles under its own weight. This is exactly what happens here. Ironically, Montiel directs the very movie he has written, so no points for guessing who gets the credit for this colossal failure. Pacing is another weak component as the entire film is a slow-burner. I have to agree that some films need slow pacing to build strong characterization, but again, it backfires with a lot of flashbacks on Jonathan, with hardly enough focus on Stanford and Mathers, who just happens to be vital characters in the plot. By the end, Stanford and Mathers are absurd and vague in their cause to maintain the integrity of the policing profession.
I have always commended Liotta for his antagonistic roles, especially after his memorable psychotic cop in "Unlawful Entry". Recently, Pacino has also played deranged cops in "88 Minutes" and "Righteous Kill". Together, Pacino and Liotta are decent at best for argument sake, however, as veteran actors, their screen time and limp characterization do not justify their star power. Waste of talent, if you asked me. On the other hand, Tatum has a meatier role here compared to his more recent films and appears to have done a decent job in the lead, considering the lackluster story. Even so, the film is just too bland and pointless to consider any effort by Tatum, Pacino and Liotta or even supporting roles from Tracy Morgan and Katie Holmes.
Avoid it like a plague.