Robert 'Bobby' Moresco is a former actor turned writer-producer of
short-lived but well-respected television series like
EZ STREETS and
FALCONE. The latter was "inspired" by the life of undercover FBI agent
Joseph D. Pistone whose story served as the basis for the 1997 feature film
DONNIE BRASCOE. After taking home an Academy Award for co-writing
the screenplay to
CRASH, Moresco nows steps up to the director's chair
with
10TH & WOLF, a drama that also is drawn from Pistone's experiences.
Since we've already had
DONNIE BRASCOE and FALCONE, is it really necessary
to go to this well again? Do we need yet another story of an undercover agent
and the Mob?

Well, I'm not entirely convinced.
10TH & WOLF, so named for an
intersection in Philadelphia (although the film was shot on location in
Pittsburgh), is a moderately interesting crime drama that will probably
fare much better on cable and DVD. It seems more suited for the small
screen.

The film opens with what appears to be lost footage from
JARHEAD.
Marine Tommy Santoro (James Marsden) is driving a jeep over the dunes,
with oil fields on fire in the background. Ironically, he seems to run out of
gas. Later we learn that after striking a superior officer, he had gone AWOL
with the intent of assassinating Saddam Hussein. Enter the FBI in the form
of Brian Denehey's character named Horvath, a man who makes Santoro an
offer he cannot refuse. If Santoro helps infiltrate and bring down the Mob in
his hometown of Philadelphia, then the government will offer Santoro a
pardon. Since Tommy's father was a soldier in the Mafia, as was his uncle
who raised him, as is his cousin Joey (Giovanni Ribisi), he reluctantly
agrees.

Joey may be street smart, but he's not bright and he has a habit
of telling too much to informants. So the stage is set for a conflict that
plays out in predictable fashion. Along the way, there's a cameo by
Dennis Hopper as a mob boss, Lesley Ann Warren as Joey's estranged
mother, Brad Renfro as Tommy's brother who is now working for Joey,
Dash Mihok as a psycho enforcer, Val Kilmer as a drunk bar patron,
and Piper Perabo as widow who appeals to Joey for work. The actors
all try gamely to make something of this drama, but Moresco and his
co-writer Allan Steele rely too much on flashbacks giving the story's
structure an unwieldy form that can leave some members of the audience
confused.

There's an intriguing story that can be told from this tale, but
then we've already seen it:
DONNIE BRASCOE.


        Rating:                C
        MPAA Rating:        R for strong brutal violence, pervasive language,
                                        some drug content and sexuality/nudity
        Running time:       107 mins.


                        Viewed at Magno Review One                              


10th & Wolf
©  2006 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.