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10th & Wolf
cast: James Marsden, Giovanni Ribisi, Val Kilmer, Brian Dennehy, and Dennis Hopper

director: Robert Moresco

104 minutes (15) 2006
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Metrodome DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 3/10
reviewed by Jonathan McCalmont
Given all those seasons of The Sopranos, Donnie Brasco, countless films about organised crime, and The Godfather trilogy, it takes a brave man to say to himself 'You know what? Let's make a film about the mafia!' Having won an Oscar for co-writing Crash, Bobby Moresco evidently decided to become that man, as he hasn't just directed this, he's also co-written it, and with a star-studded cast you'd think that this project might have some substance to it. However, in truth, there is nothing in this film that you have not seen a hundred times before in a hundred different and more interesting combinations. 10th & Wolf serves only to underline the need for Hollywood to stay well away from the mafia until it gets a few new decent ideas.

Tommy (James Marsden) grew up with the mafia and, in an attempt to escape it he joined the marines just before the first Gulf War. However, when George Bush senior decided not to topple Saddam Hussein, Tommy lost all faith in the American military and went a bit mad with a jeep. Shipped back home and facing a hefty prison sentence, Tommy is given a chance for freedom... he must infiltrate the circle of childhood companion Joey (Giovanni Ribisi) and save not just himself but his freshly mobbed up brother Vincent (Brad Renfro). From this Donnie Brasco style set-up flows a succession of uninspiring set piece featuring lots of yelling in undershirts (as The Sopranos once put it), lots of tough guys walking into bars and implying everyone is gay and lots of shots of Tommy agonising over his stool pigeon role in life as ruthless FBI man Hovarth (Brian Dennehy) squeezes him tighter and tighter.

The first thing that springs to mind as you're watching this film is that it wears its heart on its sleeve. Indeed, 10th & Wolf is reminiscent of The Fast And The Furious insofar as it is full of actors wringing every last drop of emotion from a decidedly muted script. There's love, betrayal and more love and more betrayal and on and on it goes until you wish that they'd all just pull themselves together. I mean for fuck's sake, if this film is anything to go by, if you're ever cornered by the mafia all you'd need to do is sing the opening bars to Journey's Don't Stop Believing and they'd all be in floods of tears, allowing you to make your escape unharmed. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for the idea of challenging and reinventing so-called icons of masculinity so as to free us all from their stereotypical inspiration, and I fully understand why the Village People dressed as cowboys and builders, but things really have got out of hand if 10th & Wolf is anything to go by as now our icons of masculinity weep liked teased labia at the slightest provocation.

10th & Wolf's problem is that once you get past Ribisi and Marsden being all tough and angsty, there really is nothing to see. Moresco brings nothing new to the table and quickly finds himself rehashing old set pieces without an once of style or wit. Indeed, a lack of wit is undeniably one of the film's greatest sins as a lot of clich�s and stock characters can be forgiven thanks to some nice one-liners, but Moresco fails to deliver any, his characters are far too busy being earnest and in touch with their feelings. This makes for a film that is rather monotonous and predictable as from the second the characters are introduced we know who they are and where they are headed.

Pedestrian, unfocussed, melodramatic and clichéd, 10th & Wolf is a depressingly humdrum and predictable piece of work with little to add to the already dangerously overexposed gangster genre by a rookie director who shows a somewhat depressing tendency to give his actors enough rope to hang themselves with. Stick to the writing Bobby.
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