Son of No One, The (Blu-ray) (2011)

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Released 19-Apr-2012

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Crime Drama Featurette-Behind The Scenes-The Son of No One (4:57) 1080p.
Interviews-Cast & Crew-(28:21) 1.78:1, full cast, writer/director, editor
Trailer-Head Hunters (2.35:1 / 1080p.)
Trailer-50/50 (1.78:1 / 1080p.)
Trailer-One for the Money (2.35:1 / 1080p.)
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2011
Running Time 93:46
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Dito Montiel
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Channing Tatum
Al Pacino
Julkiette Binoche
Tracy Morgan
James Ransone
Ray Liotta
Katie Holmes
Ursula Parker
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $44.95 Music Jonathan Elias
David Wittman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Titles begin 6:16 into action

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Plot Synopsis

     Writer/director Dito Montiel made an auspicious debut with his 2006 film A Guide to Recognizing Your Saint, which was one of the stepping stones in Robert Downey Junior's path to the re-establishment of himself as one of today’s very best screen actors. Montiel followed this first feature with the Channing Tatum starrer Fighting in 2009, and is currently working on Empire State, which stars another hunk, Australia's Liam Hemsworth. There are two major themes in Montiel's work : the mean streets of New York, and the effects of exposure to crime on the developing male adolescent. In his third feature, Son of No One, the writer cum director explores these themes, but with little success. Maybe one of those hats should be discarded.

     The major problem with this film is its structure. The story is that of two males, Jonathan "Milk" White, and his friend Vinnie. The screenplay keeps hopping in time between the late 80s, with the two then fourteen-year-olds boys living in squalor in one of New York's mazelike project housing developments, and almost twenty years later with the city only just past the horror of the Twin Towers terrorism, with the two young men now just passing the age of thirty. In their boyhood the boys had been involved in two sordid murders, with the two swearing to life-long secret silence. At age thirty, "White" has joined the police force and is assigned to his old neighbourhood, with all of the haunting memories of the past. He is married to Kerry (Katie Holmes) and they have a daughter with some medical problems. Vinnie is an emotional disaster, unable to cope with his continued life in the projects. Soon after "Milk's" appointment, accusatory letters are sent to a crusading reporter (Juliette Binoche), letters which threaten the exposure of the perpetrators of the two unsolved murders. "Milk"'s Captain (Ray Liotta) assigns the young cop to investigate and find out who is behind the letters.

     This outline has enough for more than one meaty, slice-of-life New York cop drama, but sadly the film never becomes compelling. The continual see-sawing in time becomes annoying, with no situation drawing us in, neither that of the young boys and their abuse, nor that of the mature "Milk" whose marriage is disintegrating under the threat of exposure and physical harm to his wife and child. If the story of the young boys had been told in its entirety, in one chunk, surely there would have been more dramatic force in what, on paper, was a horrendous story. Montiel's screenplay never develops character or situation, but instead is content to utilise cliché. Consider the problematic daughter and the grotesquely overweight grandmother. The script also annoys with its lengthy pauses and silences, and overextended "tensions", such as the scene in the bathroom with Kerry demanding that her husband face her. We know what's coming, so get on with it. Also at times annoying was the editing (or was it direction?) that had one particular action repeated for emphasis. I am tempted to go back and count exactly how many times a gun is dramatically "revealed" in one scene.

     Channing Tatum is OK, but too big and footballerish for this tormented soul. He keeps his shirt on, looks serious and wears a moustache, and that's about it. Katie Holmes is overwrought but not objectionable. However, the film really scores with its supporting performances. Al Pacino is at his very best as a retired cop at the centre of it all and Tracy Morgan, of 30 Rock fame, is heartbreaking in his short time on screen. Juliette Binoche is oddly cast, but very good, while Ray Liotta is very strong in his role. The two young actors, Jake Cherry ("Milk") and Brian Gilbert (Vinnie) are excellent, with the scene between young Cherry and Pacino quite brilliant.

     Technically the film is fine. Using authentic New York locales, the widescreen photography of Benoit Delhomme ( The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas) is nigh faultless. The hand-held affectation is minimal, and used with discretion. The credit for music is shared by Jonathan Elias (Two Moon Junction) and David Wittman (Fighting). It is a measure of the film that at times I was more admiring the effectiveness of the score, particularly its more sombrely symphonic sections, than I was watching the film's action.

     This film is no artistic success, nor was it a success at the box office. In the United States it only appeared on eleven screens, to meagre receipts, while its only other cinema release has been in Russia and the Ukraine.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Presented at the ratio of 2.35:1 in a 1080p transfer, the film is given an admirable transfer.

     The images are generally sharp and clear, although there are particular shots in which key visual elements are intentionally out of focus. With excellent use of the wide screen, the squalor of New York's projects has never been more vivid, and the film excels in its depiction of dark, threatening city streets and alleys. The shadow detail here is splendid. The colour is muted but effective, with extremely good skin tones.

     There are excellent tri-colour English Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired.



Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     There are two audio streams : English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Encoded at 48 Khz and English Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround Encoded at 48 Khz

     The disc provides a solid and immersive soundtrack, without any dynamic use of direction or surrounds. The dialogue is generally front and centre, and I confess that there were sections in which I found the dialogue difficult, even impossible, to understand. This was particularly a problem in the scenes with the otherwise splendid young male actors playing the two boys. The music from the two composers, Jonathan Elias and David Wittman, is beautifully reproduced, with the sub-woofer prominently providing pulsatingly ominous undertones.

     The Descriptive Narration for the Vision Impaired is provided by the usual youngish male voice. The track was sampled and found to be excellent.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     There are just a couple of extras on the disc, and neither is illuminating.

Main Menu

     The menu is presented over a black and white, grainy montage from the film, with a close-up of Channing Tatum superimposed. Music from the film continues through the menu selection.

Start-Up Trailers

     Three trailers presented in excellent 1080p quality.

Featurette : The Son of No One : Behind the Scenes (4:57)

     This making-of behind the scenes featurette is presented in 1080p, with the new footage at 1.,78:1 and excerpts from the film at 2.35:1. This is very short and obviously superficial.

Cast and Crew Interviews (28:21)

     Here we are given quite a collection of talking-head interviews all presented in 1080p at the ratio of 1.78:1. The actors interviewed are Channing Tatum, Tracy Morgan, Katie Holmes, Ray Liotta, Juliette Binoche, James Ransome, Jake Cherry and Brian Gilbert, followed by producers John Thompson and Holly Wiseman. The questions are all pretty lame and what you would expect. Would you be surprised to learn that they all think very highly of one another? You could write the questions and the answers.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The featurette and interviews on the Australian release are not on the Region 1 U.S. disc. That release does, however, contain the following extras: Feature Audio Commentary by director Dito Montiel and editor Jake Pushinsky, Extended Scenes : (6:27), Theatrical Trailer (2:29), Spanish Subtitles.

Summary

     On paper this looks like it would be a compelling and forceful drama, even a tragedy. The plot outline is dramatic, the cast impressive and there is technical expertise at hand. Sadly the whole is much less than the sum of its parts. The screenplay is the problem. It would be an interesting exercise to re-edit what is here and try and gauge the effectiveness of a linear narrative. What we do have is dramatically entertaining, even though it's a mess. There are some excellent performances - Pacino is at his best - and the disc looks fine.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Garry Armstrong (BioGarry)
Monday, July 02, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDSONY BLU RAY BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA55A950D1F : 55 inch LCD HD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS777
SpeakersVAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)

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