10TH & WOLF
A HESITANT THUMBS UP FILM REVIEW RATING!
If you've seen DONNIE BRASCO, you've seen parts of 10TH & WOLF.
Here we have Tommy (James Marsden, X-MEN: THE LAST STAND) trying to set his life straight. After finding out that his father was a hit-man for a local boss, Tommy soon sees him gunned down on the street. Twelve-year-old Tommy never forgets this and once eighteen, joins the marines and is whisked off to the Persian Gulf. He fights the war his country tells him to fight, only to learn that they can't go into Baghdad and capture Saddam in the end. Tommy loses control of himself, hits an MP, and steals a colonel's Jeep. Now in hot-water, and facing a court martial, he is shipped back to the brig in the U.S. where he's approached by Agent Horvath (Brian Dennehy, COCOON) of the FBI. Tommy is told that what remains of his family is in danger. His brother Vincent (Brad Renfro, GHOST WORLD) has fallen in with a friend's "business." This friend is Joey (Giovanni Ribisi, THE GIFT) who's attempting to become a boss of his own. The hitch is that Joey also saved Tommy's life once, and Tommy loves Joey like a second brother. Agent Horvath explains that another wannabe boss in the area needs to be caught on tape with incriminating evidence so that they can put him away. Joey and Tommy's brother Vincent will be given an easy deal if Tommy cooperates.
Tommy returns to 10th and Wolf, his true home, and rekindles his friendship with Joey. But once in tight with him, Tommy's values toward family and friends comes creeping up. That he cares deeply for Joey is all too evident; he may even care more for Joey than he does his own brother, something that is touched on in the film.
In the end, Tommy has to make a tough decision that is supposed to save his brother, but put Joey in harms way. Not willing to let Joey go through the danger alone, Tommy accompanies him into an explosive situation, only to learn that his brother Vincent's mortal coil may have been shed already.
Although fairly predictable, the story has some wonderful acting moments. Giovanni Ribisi was flawless as the cocky start-up Joey. Every scene he was in felt electrified. There's one in particular that stands out. It is where he and Tommy stand near a fence toward the end of the film and Joey speaks of trust and those who wear wires for "the good guys." It is a very touching and dangerous moment, because the audience doesn't know if Joey is going to kill Tommy or if his cold heart actually has a place for Tommy in it.
That there aren't any "big bosses" around adds a tension to the flick that is often lacking in other more gratuitously violent mafioso movies. Joey and another small time crook are trying to become godfathers of their own in the small community, and it is their battles with the past, as much as with each other, that makes this film stand out above its predecessors.