In director Dito Montiel’s crime thriller ‘The Son of No One’, we are introduced to NYPD cop Jonathan White (Channing Tatum). When Jonathan was a kid (Jake Cherry) in the crime ridden, dope fiend infested New York City project he grew up in, he did some bad things. He wasn’t a bad kid, but circumstance led to him killing a couple of undesirables, the kind of people of who will be missed by no one, and the kind of people who the cops won’t even bother to investigate. He’s been trying to live those things down for most of his life, but now it’s come back to haunt him and in the worst way.
Today, Jonathan is a hardworking, honest police officer, he has a lovely wife in Kerry (Katie Holmes) who probably isn’t the most supportive girl around, and he has the cutest baby girl Charlie (Ursula Parker) who has some health problems she’s dealing with. The problems start when a local news rag, ran by the muckraking reporter Loren Brides (Juliet Binoche) started getting odd handwritten notes about these deaths that took place some sixteen years prior. Whoever was writing these letters to this reporter is upset that justice was not served, and the author also knows who committed these crimes and has vowed to bring them down.
These letters are causing concern for everybody at Jonathan’s precinct, including his boss Captain Mathers (Ray Liotta) who wants this situation to just go away. Often the film flashes back to the events in young Jonathan’s life which led to those unfortunate childhood events. The one thing young Jonathan has going for him is his emotionally damaged best friend Vincent (Brian Gilbert) who will do anything to keep Jonathan’s secrets, and there is also the investigating officer Charles Stanford (Al Pacino) who seems to know that Jonathan was involved, but being as how these two are connected via Jonathan’s late police officer father, he’s conveniently swept everything under the rug. If he was really looking out for young Jonathan, you would think he’d found the boy a nicer place to stay.
Complicating this issue is that Officer Stanford is the current chief of police, albeit a retiring one, but this coming to light would be very embarrassing for him. Plus Captain Mathers is up for his job and the revelations of this thing could derail his promotional
opportunities. Then there are the cryptic phone calls to Jonathan and his wife which threaten to expose everything. The only person who could possibly know what went down all those years ago, the person who has to be writing these letters has to Vincent (Tracy Morgan), but once we see reconnect with Vincent, living an over-medicated life as a virtual walking zombie, surely he can’t be the one writing these letters, can he? At least I don’t think he’s capable of doing it, not that anybody in this movie is listening to me.
Whatever is happening, these cops can’t let this information get out, and they go to some extremes to make sure it doesn’t get it out. Seriously. This was about the time that a movie that was holding my interest completely fell apart.
Dito Montiel’s last film I saw, ‘Fighting’, also starring Channing Tatum, I personally found to be very entertaining if not a bit flawed and a little heavy on the melodrama. A few things have happened in the years since that movie. One of these things is that Channing Tatum has become a better actor. Probably not a good actor as of yet, but better, and it shows here. Another surprising thing is, if pressed, Tracy Morgan shows he can do drama. He didn’t have to do much in his two scenes, but what he did do was impressive. Similar to ‘Fighting’ Montiel showed New York City as a gritty, tough place to live, the movie had a washed out color palette which matched the theme of the film quite well, and the child actors, particularly young Brian Gilbert playing the younger version of Tracy Morgan’s character were outstanding.
But while these are all good things, the ending completely let this movie down. The ‘mystery’ of course is who is sending these accusatory letters. As we mentioned before, we’re pretty sure it’s not Vincent since he’s barely lucid, but none of the other characters in this movie could see this. Maybe Tracy Morgan played the character wrong, I don’t know, but this guy isn’t pulling out Sharpies, getting paper, writing notes, buying stamps and mailing them off to newspapers. It’s actually pretty clear who’s writing the notes since there is really only one character left who could be writing the notes, but this characters reasoning behind this was so flawed, that it’s hard to believe that this concept passed quality control. Then there was the shootout on the rooftop which was equally ridiculous… I don’t want to give anything away, but if there’s a tense situation, bullets are flying, and you give a crazy guy a loaded gun with the thought being he’s going to kill himself with it… then you get what deserve. Again, whoever thought that this was a viable resolution to a cinematic problem should be spanked. Heck, nothing got resolved in this movie, truth be told.
It’s too bad because ‘Son of No One’ had some promise but apparently ran into the roadblock of how to wrap itself up. I don’t know what was on the table in regards to this as they were plotting out this film, but just about anything would’ve better than what they went with. A flying saucer abduction would’ve been better than what they went with.