×

The Son of No One

Writer-director Dito Montiel shoots mostly blanks in the hokey cop meller "The Son of No One."

With:
With: Channing Tatum, Ray Liotta, Katie Holmes, Tracy Morgan, Juliette Binoche, Al Pacino, John Ransone, Jake Cherry, Brian Gilbert, Roger Guenveur Smith.

Heretofore well-armed writer-director Dito Montiel shoots mostly blanks in the hokey cop meller “The Son of No One,” whose half-dozen stars amazingly emerge unscathed. As in the auteur’s “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints,” an emotionally wounded man (here played by Montiel regular Channing Tatum) struggles to overcome the pain of his mid-’80s childhood in working-class New York. But in this case, Montiel’s awkward appropriation of gritty crime-drama conventions results in a film that’s contrived and implausible, at times absurdly so. Name talent assures “Son” will be adopted by a distrib, though it’s unlikely reviews or grosses will pack heat.

Featuring Ray Liotta and Al Pacino as high-ranking cops, Katie Holmes and Juliette Binoche as stressed-out femmes in the line of fire, and Tracy Morgan as a mute Queens rooftop-dweller, the pic’s wildly eccentric ensemble acquits itself through perfs that are vastly more concentrated than the script demands. Still, one can’t help feeling that a set of campy, tongue-in-cheek turns would’ve better served the silly pic, wherein Tatum’s rookie officer is wracked with guilt over having snuffed a pair of menacing junkies in the Queensborough projects when he was a wee middle-schooler.

Alternating none too nimbly between 1986 and 2002, the film reveals that young Jonathan White (Jake Cherry) was privately let off the hook by Det. Stanford (Pacino), his dead dad’s former partner, but that anonymous tips sent to a Queens reporter (Binoche) threaten to implicate the grown White (Tatum) as well as Stanford, who’s acting as Deputy Commissioner until White’s boss, Capt. Mathers (Liotta), takes over. Why Binoche’s journalist works overtime chasing clues to a 16-year-old mystery involving two dead junkies isn’t clear; nor are many of the other details in Montiel’s ineptly organized screenplay.

Living in Staten Island with his wife (Holmes) and epileptic daughter, White — known as “Milk” when he was a kid — becomes increasingly unglued, but never compellingly so. Montiel seems to want to link his tale of unchecked law-and-order to post-9/11 New York, but the pic’s location shooting depicts a curiously underpopulated city where, for example, Binoche’s lone-wolf scribe represents the entire media. The movie’s rooftop climax, straining to channel “The Departed,” is made borderline laughable through a succession of fades to white, apparently there to disguise the fact that Montiel hasn’t mapped the action in any coherent way.

End credits state that the film is based on “The Story of Milk,” an evidently unpublished novel by Montiel.

Popular on Variety

The Son of No One

Production: A Millennium Films presentation of a Nu Image production, in association with Hannibal. (International sales: Millennium, Los Angeles.) Produced by John Thompson, Holly Wiersma, Dito Montiel. Executive producers, Avi Lerner, Danny Dimbort, Trevor Short, Boaz Davidson, Cassian Elwes. Co-executive producers, Joy Gorman, Lonnie Ramati. Directed, written by Dito Montiel.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Benoit Delhomme; editor, Jake Pushinsky; music, David Wittman, Jonathan Elias; music supervisor, Selena Arizanovic; production designer, Beth Mickle; art director, Michael Ahern; set decorator, Carrie Stewart; costume designer, Sandra Hernandez; sound (Dolby Digital), Bryan Dembinsky; supervising sound editor, Paul Hsu; visual effects supervisors, Leo Vezzali, Peter Berky; visual effects, Identity FX; special effects coordinator, Drew Jiritano; line producer, Brian Bell; assistant director, Urs Hirschbiegel; casting, Kerry Barden, Paul Schnee. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (Premieres), Jan. 24, 2011. Running time: 95 MIN.

With: With: Channing Tatum, Ray Liotta, Katie Holmes, Tracy Morgan, Juliette Binoche, Al Pacino, John Ransone, Jake Cherry, Brian Gilbert, Roger Guenveur Smith.

More Film

  • Amanda Awards

    ‘Out Stealing Horses’ Tops Norway’s 2019 Amanda Awards

    HAUGESUND, Norway —  Hans Petter Moland’s sweeping literary adaptation “Out Stealing Horses” put in a dominant showing at Norway’s Amanda Awards on Saturday night, placing first with a collected five awards, including best Norwegian film. Celebrating its 35th edition this year, the Norwegian industry’s top film prize helped kick off the Haugesund Film Festival and [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Richard Williams, 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' Animator, Dies at 86

    Renowned animator Richard Williams, best known for his work on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” died Friday at his home in Bristol, England, Variety has confirmed. He was 86. Williams was a distinguished animator, director, producer, author and teacher whose work has garnered three Oscars and three BAFTA Awards. In addition to his groundbreaking work as [...]

  • Instinct

    Locarno Film Review: 'Instinct'

    Now that “Game of Thrones” has finally reached its conclusion, releasing its gifted international ensemble into the casting wilds, will Hollywood remember just what it has in Carice van Houten? It’s not that the statuesque Dutch thesp hasn’t been consistently employed since her startling 2006 breakout in Paul Verhoeven’s “Black Book,” or even that she’s [...]

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Eyes Best Original Comedy Opening of 2019

    Universal’s “Good Boys” is surpassing expectations as it heads toward an estimated $20.8 million opening weekend at the domestic box office following $8.3 million in Friday ticket sales. That’s well above earlier estimates which placed the film in the $12 million to $15 million range, marking the first R-rated comedy to open at No. 1 [...]

  • Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Wins at

    Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Triumphs at Locarno Film Festival

    The 72nd Locarno Film Festival drew to a close Saturday with Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa’s dark and detached film “Vitalina Varela” coming away with several awards together with superlatives from segments of the hardcore cinephile crowd, including jury president Catherine Breillat. In announcing the Golden Leopard prize for the film, as well as best actress [...]

  • Vitalina Varela

    Locarno Film Review: 'Vitalina Varela'

    Frequently beautiful compositions and the theatrical use of a fierce kind of artifice have long been the hallmarks of Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa, regarded by a small but influential group of aesthetes as one of the great filmmakers of our era. For those in tune with his vision, the director’s films offer an exciting lesson [...]

  • Notre dame

    Locarno Film Review: 'Notre dame'

    Not to be too cynical about it, but might the recent horrific fire in Paris’ cathedral attract audiences to a film in which the gothic gem plays a major role? It’s likely a wiser marketing strategy than promoting the unrelenting silliness of Valerie Donzelli’s oh-so-kooky comedy “Notre dame,” the writer-director-star’s return to contemporary Paris following [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content