10th & Wolf
Inspired by a true story, this "90s-era mob tale of a guy who tries to escape the life but ends up turning informant instead, isn"t particularly convincing. Let's just say, it certainly isn't anything you haven"t seen before.
Tommy Santoro"s (James Marsden) disillusionment with his own family--Dad was a mob enforcer who was shot down in front of the house--leads him to join the Marines, but when the Gulf War ends with Saddam still in power, Tommy flips and ends up in the brig. An FBI agent (Brian Dennehy) offers him his only way out of a multi-year sentence: Return to the Philly neighborhood he grew up in and inform on his mobbed-up cousin, Joey (Giovanni Ribisi). Tommy is dismayed to find that his young brother, Vincent (Brad Renfro), is also now in the life. Tommy ends up romancing Brandy (Piper Perabo), a girl he grew up with, now widowed and working at Joey"s nightclub.
Finally rid of Cyclops" signature shades, it"s nice to see more of X-Men"s Marsden than killer cheekbones and pursed lips, including some finely honed dramatic chops. Renfro"s character is supposed to be on the slow side, it seems, although it"s not quite clear why that is. Ribisi, as the hair-trigger tempered Joey, doesn"t quite have the gravitas or necessary psychosis to intimidate. In fact, all of the cast seem a bit on the young side, which lends an unwelcome air of kids-playing-dress-up to the proceedings. With dark hair and a perpetually guarded expression, Perabo is nearly unrecognizable as that same blonde who shook her thing on top of the bar in Coyote Ugly--although her casting does invite an unintentional snigger or two when she informs a horny patron that "the bartenders don"t dance." Cameos by Dennis Hopper (as Tommy"s dad), Val Kilmer (as a drunk grieving his Marine son) and Tommy Lee (as "Jimmy Tats," an overeager bouncer) are more distracting than meaningful.
Writer/director Bobby Moresco (one half of the Crash writing team) proves he"s no Scorsese. The film boasts some striking cinematography and moody lighting and sparks to life whenever things turn violent. But, as is often the case in mob dramas, connections between characters aren"t clear. Character interaction remains on the murky side as well. Tommy chews Joey out for allowing brother Vincent to get involved in his mob dealings, but no one questions Tommy"s reentry into the life. While we feel for Tommy"s dilemma, Moresco fails to build sympathy or interest for other characters, so by the time the final showdown occurs, you won"t much care who lives and who dies.
Hollywood.com rated this film 2 1/2 stars.