'10th & Wolf'
(James Marsden, Giovanni Ribisi, Brad Renfro, Piper Perabo, et al / DVD / R / 2006 / Velocity - Thinkfilm)
Overview: Marine Sgt. Tommy Santor (Marsden) thought he had left his family's ties to the mafia behind. But a visit from the F.B.I. sends him home to the tightly knit South Philly neighborhood of 10th and Wolf to face the biggest dilemma of his life.
DVD Verdict: Although "10th & Wolf" is not a bad movie I was a bit disappointed. Since it's based on the same story as "Donnie Brasco" I was expecting something as intense and breathtaking as Mike Newell's film. And I have to say "Donnie Brasco" was more thorough and more thought-provoking than "10th & Wolf". It starts as Tommy (James Marsden) returns to Philadelphia from the army and he's having a deal with FBI to be an inside man in his cousin Joey's (Giovanni Ribisi) gang which has some business with mafia. Federals will be able to catch some bigger fish and Tommy will get a chance to save his younger brother Vince (Brad Renfro) and Joey from going to jail. So Tommy who never wanted to join the local gang starts having business with his friends and wears a wire. That's the basic story-line, but what I liked here was not this "undercover agent" plot but relationships between the main characters. Tommy who hasn't been home for some years begins to build his relations with his cousin, his brother, old friends and aunt - and all that looks rather interesting and vivid mostly due to the good actors taking part in the feature. The cast in "10th & Wolf" is indeed very nice. Marsden is surprisingly good, I never expected such a credible performance from him. Ribisi is awesome as always, he's full of energy, he's vigorous and a little bit mad. Renfro is also very good, he's almost always authentic albeit overacting sometimes. Piper Perabo is quite believable as a single mother and Tommy's love interest although we never get to see any love scenes in the movie. I can also mention Lesley Ann Warren whom I adore, actually I can't remember a role she was bad at. And Brian Dennehy with Leo Rossi were OK as two federal agents. What I disliked or rather was distracted with were the cameos of Val Kilmer, Dennis Hopper and Tommy Lee. Hopper was the only one to get a sort of a real part in "10th & Wolf", but generally it looked like big names were used just to attract attention to the movie although they appeared on screen for 10 minutes altogether. I read that people from Philadelphia say the film really captured the city's spirit. I don't live there so it's not up to me to judge, but if to sum it all up I've seen better: from "A Bronx Tale" to "The Sopranos". But with all my doubts there clearly are some positive things about "10th & Wolf". Nice story, directing and acting - I think that's quite enough, and as for several flaws - I sincerely think there are no movies without them. Maybe here they just stick out too evidently. This is a Widescreen Version Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Filmmaker Commentary featuring Academy Award Winner Bobby Moresco and FBI Agent Joe Pistone, aka "Donnie Brasco"