The Marine & the Mob
As a boy Tommy (James Marsden - The Box) and his brother, Vincent (Brad Renfro - Bully), moved to live with their Uncle and Aunt in Philadelphia following the murder of their father, a mafia hitman. When he was old enough Tommy signed up and joined the Marines serving in Desert Storm but fell out of love with the military when Desert Storm ended with Saddam still at large. It all leads to his arrest when he punches an MP but in doing so brings him to the attention of FBI Agent Horvath (Brian Dennehy - The Ultimate Gift) who aware of his family's Mafia connections wants him to work for the agency and get evidence to bring down a Mob boss heavying in on the drug business. In return not only will Tommy go free but Horvath will arrange protection for Vincent along with their cousin, Joey (Giovanni Ribisi - Flight of the Phoenix), who are already involved with the mob. But having agreed to help Tommy finds himself conflicted between helping the FBI and family loyalty.
There is a scene early on in "10th & Wolf" featuring Dennis Hopper as a mob boss called Matty Matello and he barks at the guy behind the bar if he screws up his drink he will kill him. Without it being a complete copy it is reminiscent of a scene in "Goodfellas" when Joe Pesci's character gives a young guy a hell of a time over not getting him his drink. Then a little while later there is a scene featuring a bar fight after one guy hits on another guys girl and I could list off several movies which that could have come from. The thing is that I could go on as scene after scene in "10th & Wolf" reminded me of other movies.
Now the thing is that "10th & Wolf" is entertaining but like 90% of mob movies ends up feeling too cliche, like it is copying those iconic mob movies which any self respecting movie fan will have watched. It is a bit of a shame as "10th & Wolf" is inspired by a true story written by Donnie Brasco, aka FBI agent Joseph Pistone, but the true story interest gets lost beneath the multiple layers of cliches and that includes Tommy's conflict of doing what is right and his loyalty to the family.
Part of what makes "10th & Wolf" entertaining is the surprisingly impressive cast which director Robert Moresco assembled on an estimated budget of $8,000,000. Whilst some of the characters feel a little too cliche and some actors only have a cameo the likeability of James Marsden, Giovanni Ribisi and Brad Renfro goes a long way to get us feeling something for their characters.
What this all boils down to is that if you like mob movies "10th & Wolf" is another okay mob movie to add to your list of mob movies. But it is a movie that whilst inspired by a true story ends up like so many mob movies as it struggles to escape from the shadow of the great mob movies with scenes and characters which feel ripped off.