A former street tough returns to his Philadelphia home after a stint in the military. Back on his home turf, he once again finds himself tangling with the mob boss who was instrumental in his going off to be a soldier.
February, 1991. Tommy, a Desert Storm marine dismayed that the US isn't taking out Saddam, breaks some rules and faces hard labor. An FBI agent offers him an out: go home to his gritty, dockside home in Pennsylvania and help get the goods on an Italian heroine dealer; in return, no prison time and no arrest of Tommy's brother Vincent and cousin Joey. Loyalty to family conflicts with loyalty to the code of the street. Can Tommy sort it out, protect his brother and cousin, and stay true? Do young men die - in the sands of the Middle East and on the mean streets of the US - for no reason? Written by
Robert Moresco ('Crash') is proving to be a fine storyteller with a definite style of his own. 10TH & WOLF, written by both Moresco and Allan Steele and directed by Moresco appears on the shelves of DVDs as one of those films that makes us wonder why it didn't do well on the theater screens: it is well written, beautifully directed, has a cast that is consistently fine, and unravels a family involved in organized crime theme as well as any movie out there.
Moresco very wisely starts his story in the burning oil fields of Kuwait during Desert Storm where Marine sargeant Tommy (James Marsden, doing his finest work since his brilliant portrayal in THE 24TH HOUR) drives his Hummer through the desert, coming to grips with the absurdity of war, a key turn in his personality causing him to be dishonorably discharged for his refusal to take part in that ridiculous war game. He is given a deal: FBI agents Horvath (Brian Dennehy) and Thornton (Leo Rossi) visit his cell stateside and offer him clemency if he helps them capture a big drug dealer Reggio (Francesco Salvi) in Tommy's hometown of Philadelphia. Tommy had escaped the organized crime scene by joining the Marines, but is suddenly returned to his family occupation as an undercover agent with a wire. Tommy's brother Vincent (Brad Renfro) and his cousin Joey (Giovanni Ribisi) welcome his return and begin plotting ways to off Reggio. Beatings and murders begin to occur: Joey is a bit on the mad side and plunges his boys into messes that become like quicksand. How the family bonds over losses to big crime and vendettas, and how that lifestyle affects parents (Lesley Ann Warren) and victims turned girlfriends (Piper Perabo) leaving the drive to survive as the paramount goal is the run of the plot.
There are plenty of cameos (Dennis Hopper, Val Kilmer, Dash Mihok etc) to round out the dark atmosphere, but the strength of the film lies strongly on the shoulders of Marsden, Ribisi and Renfro and they handle their roles exceptionally well. This is yet another big crime story but one that grips the audience's attention and holds it to the final twisted end. Strong violence and language, but a testy and tightly woven story with many unspoken metaphors. Grady Harp
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