Gramps: Dito Montiel’s Tragedy Finds Mediocrity

Let’s be honest here, Montiel’s New York centered police-drama has two draws: (1) Ray Liotta and (2) Al Pacino. The mere mention of their names in relation to police-drama causes we, the people, to long for a simple glimpse of Liotta’s understated Gary Figgis in Copland and just a little of the magic that Pacino brought to Heat‘s Vincent Hanna. Personally, and I pray others still think like me, each time I hear Liotta linked to a new project I yearn to see Henry Hill strut across the street and beat a man short of death with the butt end of a pistol; similarly, I so want to see Pacino channel Sonny from Dog Day Afternoon, “Attica, Attica!” Although I knew going into Son of No One that my prayers wouldn’t be answered, I guess I’m still a dreamer (or incredibly stubborn), thus I walk away from a very average film still disappointed. In truth, it’s my own fault.

I didn’t even mention that Juliette Binoche is among this once stellar cast. Yet, I regret that I must also mention that Tracy Morgan also appears in the film (apparently replacing Terrance Howard, which begs the question: in what realm is Morgan the next logical choice after Howard?!?).

I believe that last sentence sums up my thoughts on Morgan as a dramatic actor. So, back to Binoche, she is the lone bright spot in terms of performances go. As a local news publisher, she has a small role, yet the scenes where she shares the screen with Tatum are akin to Ali fighting Clay Aiken: K.O. 15 seconds into the 1st!

So, what about Channing Tatum? He’s essentially wallpaper – and a bland one at that. Emotionless. Expressionless. Still. Rigid. Moustached. I know he’s Montiel’s “muse” of sorts, but I can’t help but think what a poor choice Tatum is as the film’s protagonist. It’s like watching paint dry which, I suppose, is a bit better than merely staring at wallpaper, maybe?

Son of Moustache

Returning to Liotta and Pacino only briefly, as my intro basically tells it all; it feels as if they simply walk through their roles. Liotta talks loud and Pacino gives one of his very best impressions of… Pacino? Despite my grief, however, it still gives me pleasure to simply see both men on the big screen. Always has, always will.

As far as plot  is concerned, it is heavily coincidental and drifts into what can only be called a parody of a Shakespearian tragedy. Ultimately, the film’s “tension” emerges out of nowhere with no build-up, and the film culminates in an unintentionally funny standoff undoubtedly meant to evoke sadness or a sense of loss. Yet, the only sense of loss that I’m left with is one of what could have been with this cast surrounded by the immensely cinematic New York City in the backdrop.

Montiel’s direction adds nothing new to the police-drama genre. It’s muted tones, shadows, quick cuts, and lingering close-ups make Son feel like it was put together on a dramatic assembly line. Add cynicism, corruption, a dash of ghetto, and stir until bland, dry, and unappealing.

Curious desire drew me to Son of No One. It’s monotony and unoriginality that led to this review. On the other hand, it does kill 90 minutes when you feel that a day of procrastination is inevitable!

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