Caffeinated Clint vs. Al Pacino and his Son of No One

sonofnoone

Like an actor with a long-time agent who mightn’t necessarily have the hook-up or skill to push his client, Channing Tatum is, for better or worse, fucking tied to filmmaker Dito Montiel. Montiel gave Tatum his big “acting” (don’t get me onto ”Step Up”) break in a terrific little Indy called “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints” back in 2006. Several wins and losses later, the supersized McRib is still budgeting Monteil in on the action.

Tatum would front up for Montiel’s sluggish and not overly exciting boxing flick “Fighting”. To say it did nothing for Tatum’s career is an understatement. It near knocked the actor out of the cinematic ring, tossing him back to the cheap seats.

Third time’s the… something.

In his latest effort to please the man who helped get his SAG card, Tatum’s fronting Montiel’s cop drama “The Son of No One”.

First thing you notice about this one, the story of a cop who is forced to relocate back to the hood he grew up in, is the cast.  There’s bigger names in this than, well, Tatum – mother fucking Al Pacino, for a start! Katie Holmes! Tracey Morgan!?

How did Montiel do it!? How did he entice these A-listers into something just above adequate? How di…Oh, of course, Tatum.

Tatum’s Jonathan ‘Milk’ White is a young cop whose reassigned to work his old neighbourhood – the same neighbourhood he, as a youngster, shot and killed a man (Al Pacino is the cop investigating that case). All the bad shit that went down when he was young comes flooding back, affecting ‘Milk’ and his family (Holmes is the  wife). It ultimately all comes to a head – people will be found out, Pacino will growl, Tracey Morgan will try and convince us he’s a serious actor, and it all culminates in a publicity photo-friendly face-off.

Without his lucky horseshoe, Cowboy Montiel would be face down, drunk on duds, without a boot to piss on I think.

Tatum is perfectly fine in the film, giving a much more credible if subdued performance than he does in the Hollywood blockbusters (“G.I Joe”), and Katie Holmes is her usual serviceable self (sorry, that’s the best compliment I can give an actress who nailed Joey Potter… so sticks with that), but it’s Al Pacino that stands out like a stubbed toe. And not in a good way.

I love Pacino, but these last few years, with him seemingly up for anything Avi Lerner’s accountant throws his way (”Righteous Kill”, ”88 Minutes”, the opening of a McDonalds), he’s a man who has lost his way. That fantastic actor who chased meaty, complex roles – giving it his all in the likes of ”Scarface”, ”Heat”, ”Scent of a Woman” and ”Insomnia” – has been benched in favour of someone whose more in need of the work, an actor who’ll embarrass himself or simply swim upstream in Willy Wonka’s brown river of poop if … The price is right.

In this, he’s a cop. Just a cop. With a moustache. Oh, and he’s working a case. And.. that’s where the arc starts and ends.

Compelling. But his make-up woman is just as weak.. Pacino’s character is supposed to age a couple of decades in the movie and yet he looks no different. If he was playing bloody Rob Lowe, that’d be OK, but this is a grizzled, scarred cop – someone whose likely seen and lived it all and should be wearing by the year. Nope, the Pacino of 60 is the Pacino of 40. Lazy.

But let’s not blame those who can’t say no to money here, after all, we might just jump at the chance to sleepwalk for cash ourselves if given the chance (I know I’d sell my soul to headline “Encino Man 2 : The Rock Hard Years”); it’s Montiel’s script that hurts the film.

Weak and predictable with waving direction that fails to hold the audiences interest, this could’ve-been-compelling cop caper is nothing much more than a good-enough time passer. The first half of the film is actually quite tight, suggesting that the flick is bubbling away towards something that’ll scorn and compel, but that never comes. It just slows up like a injured dog… until it flops.