Film & TV

"The Son of No One" Must Learn to Live With His Past

For his third film, outer-borough sensationalist Dito Montiel sets most of the action in Astoria, the Queens neighborhood that dominated his first, 2006's A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints. He reteams with Channing Tatum, the star of all his features, here playing Jonathan White, a second-generation cop tormented by the rash actions committed during his pubescence in the enormous Queensbridge housing project. The action toggles between 2002 — when 9/11 memorial candles still burned outside police stations, while inside, arrestees were being punched — and 1986, when young Jonathan (Jake Cherry) is advised by his dead dad's partner, played by Al Pacino, that "a man has to learn to live with shit." Montiel cares little about plot logic or even the remotest connection with reality, most evident in casting Juliette Binoche as a Queens lady journalist. But as in the director's previous work, some terrific acting emerges from the absurd script. Tatum is touching as the stressed, decent provider trying to keep something bad from his past from destroying his future. Yet the real surprise is Tracy Morgan, in a small but transformative role as the heavily medicated adult incarnation of Jonathan's childhood friend. His portrayal of schizoaffective disorder is balm in a film suffering a similar illness. (Rated R)

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Melissa Anderson is the senior film critic at the Village Voice, for which she first began writing in 2000. Her work also appears in the publications of the Voice’s film partner, Voice Media Group: LA Weekly, Denver Westword, Phoenix New Times, Miami New Times, Broward-Palm Beach New Times, Houston Press and Dallas Observer.