Channing Tatum has made it hard for us to love him over the years. He began his days as a dancer in a Ricky Martin video, parlayed that success into modelling for the obnoxious eugenic fashion dystopia known to the world as Abercrombie & Fitch, before bumbling into Amanda Bynes transvestite comedies and drippy Nicolas Sparks adaptations. But he’s always seemed to have more fight in him than his anonymous contemporaries (hello, Sam Worthington), a willingness to mock himself as seen in the otherwise dull Allan Loeb-scripted comedy “The Dilemma,” and to have a nose for sniffing out promising material with respectable directors – “Public Enemies,” “The Eagle” – even if the end results often leave a lot to be desired.
With this in mind, we turn to his new trailer for “ The Son of No One,” online at Channing Tatum Unwrapped, which in fairness doesn’t add a lot from the one that debuted this January, and remains just as oblique and in large part incomprehensible. It's light on plot but heavy on dramatic glowering, and the existing official plot synopses offer little extra clarity aside from the usual banalities of families being ripped apart by old secrets. It appears to involve reopening a case from 1986 and investigating some mysterious murders along with it (the real-life Tatum was six or seven at the time, presumably it's a childhood secret), as well as a harried Juliette Binoche spouting some platitudes about possible police corruption, with Tatum's family on the receiving end of threatening home phone calls (a boring convention just below "My mentally disturbed child drew some scary drawings"). Nothing to make your brain explode with anticipation, then, but it's moody enough to suggest it's perhaps a step in the right direction for the film's leading man.
The cast is an awkward hodge-podge of Katie Holmes, the aforementioned Binoche, Ray Liotta looking like a cop who’s been hitting the pasta pretty heavy, “88 Minutes” and “Jack and Jill” star Al Pacino -- who may as well have “Aw, fuck it” tattooed across his forehead at this point – and, uh, recovering comedian Tracy Morgan in his first dramatic role, pointedly asking his old chum, "You still my friend?".
The film’s based on the book by Dito Montiel, who also directed the Tatum-heavy “Fighting” and “A Guide to Recongnizing Your Saints.” The director's certainly no Michael Mann, or even a James Gray when it comes to making dynamic crime pictures, but he’s yet to produce a work that’s actively offensive, hasn't wandered off the beaten path as outrageously as Craig Brewer and Joe Carnahan have, and this could yet end up being a generally enjoyable, if inconsequential, procedural, like Ron Sheldon's "Dark Blue." Meanwhile Tatum’s forthcoming collaborations with Steven Soderbergh seem like a definite step-up and a chance to atone for “G:I Joe”: there's “Haywire,” of course, and the currently shooting “Magic Mike,” based on his early days as a stripper. He'll live down "She Bangs" yet.
"The Son of No One" opens November 4th.