Star-studded and heavy-handed

Channing Tatum (left), Al Pacino in "The Son of No One," a muddled cop thriller.

Al Pacino, Juliette Binoche, Katie Holmes, Ray Liotta, Channing Tatum, Tracy Morgan . . . with a cast like that, the film must be, at the least, well, interesting.

If you really have to find out, head for the sole area screen where The Son of No One is playing. Set in 2002 New York, as the ashes of 9/11 are beginning to be swept away - and featuring long, grim flashbacks to 1986 - this heavy-handed muddle of a cop thriller is just impossibly bad.

Writer and director Dito Montiel, who garnered acclaim with his 2006 debut, A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, revisits that film's old stamping grounds - the grungier corners of Astoria, Queens - and revisits its themes of a boyhood shaped by poverty and violence. He also brings back one of its actors, Tatum, giving him the title role in The Son of No One. He's Jonathan "Milk" White, a 30-year-old cop with a wife (Holmes) and a daughter - and with the haunting memories of a day in the Queensbridge housing projects, back when he was a kid. And now it's all coming back again, thanks to a series of anonymous letters being published by a troublemaking newspaper editor - played by Binoche.

"If this were a movie, I'd say you look like you saw a ghost, Mr. White," she tells Tatum.

It is a movie, alas.

Contact movie critic Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or Read his blog, "On Movies Online," at


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