A rookie cop is assigned to the 118 Precinct in the same district where he grew up. The Precinct Captain starts receiving letters about two unsolved murders that happened many years ago in the housing projects when the rookie cop was just a kid. These letters bring back bad memories and old secrets that begin to threaten his career and break up his family.Written by
Douglas Young (the-movie-guy)
Slow paced, noir-ish cop-on-the-edge movie that may satisfy fans of the genre
The Son of No One attempts to be a slow burn, cop-on-the-edge crime drama, with Al Pacino and Ray Liotta, who are both grizzled veterans of these kinds of stories. Now that Pacino and Liotta are getting too old to play the starring role, they're recast as supporting actors; instead, Channing Tatum stars. I haven't seen him in anything else, but I can't really say that he impressed me. However, I think his lack of emotional affect could be interpreted as his character bottling up all his emotions, which is admittedly a very charitable view. If this movie had been made 20 years ago (or, hell, even ten years ago), Liotta would have been awesome in this role.
If you're a Liotta or Pacino fan, you should probably be aware that their parts in this movie are comparatively small, though they are important characters and show up every so often. Neither is given a whole lot to work with, despite the importance of their roles, but they put in respectable performances. I think I'd like either of them in anything (I even sat through 88 Minutes, which is widely reviled by even the most ardent Pacino fans), but there isn't really a whole lot for them to do in this movie. Given that their roles had limited characterization and less screen time than their star power might lead you to believe, it's probably best to say that they did a good job with what they had to work with and leave it at that.
I'm a real sucker for cop dramas, crime dramas, and cop-on-the-edge thrillers, as any of my friends can tell you. I'll sit through even the most derivative, generic movie ever made, as long as there's a cop on the edge. In fact, it's probably because of people like me that these derivative movies keep being made. Sorry about that. In any event, the basic story is initially split between 1986 and the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attack in NYC. I was initially confused by the constant back-and-forth between the two time periods, but, luckily, the story settles down into a more linear storyline. I'm all for non-linear stories, such as Pulp Fiction and Memento, but those movies had excellent scripts and directors. Like many movies that attempt to randomly insert flashbacks into the main narrative, I found these scenes to be jarring and not entirely necessary. As is also often the case, the flashbacks serve as a form of filler, padding out the run-time, as the main character remembers various events from his past. That's all very interesting, and I'm grateful for the characterization, but it's also somewhat annoying to have the main plot grind to a halt while someone's past is explored. I'm more concerned with who someone is, rather than who someone was.
Back in 1986, we eventually learn that the main character has a dark secret (oooh, mysterious) that's threatening to destroy not only his own life and career but also that of many other people. How the various characters respond to this situation drives the plot, ranging from moral outrage to fear, guilt, and violence. Each of the characters maintains a degree of sympathy, though your philosophical or political leanings may cause you to label some of them as unreasonable, naive, pathetic, hypocritical, and/or self-righteous. Some of them could even be interpreted as sociopaths, though, again, I think that depends on your POV. I liked this aspect of the story, and I found it intriguing enough to stick with movie, even though it's a bit slow paced. Unfortunately, the final reveal of the story (which had been hinted at rather strongly throughout, without being overt) was unsatisfying, in my opinion. In the end, it seemed like several of the characters had no motivation to take their actions, though I guess it could just be that I was starting to lose interest in the movie, by this point. I think the writer and/or director were aiming for a noir-ish feel, but what they actually ended up with was a somewhat derivative story populated by stereotypes (or archetypes, if you want to be kind). It eventually arrives at the only place where it can go, giving you the ending that you're expecting, while pretending that it's a twist ending. It's not particularly bad writing, but it's not something that I'd really commend, either. All the same, it's entertaining enough, for what it is. If you're in the mood for a slow paced, noir-ish cop-on-the-edge movie, this will probably satisfy you, though there isn't a whole lot that stands out.
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