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Directed by Neil Abramson
Starring: Nick Cannon, Melonie Diaz, Tom Sizemore, Jay Hernandez

Since the Iraq War started in 2003, many narrative and documentary films have covered the subject. American Son stars Nick Cannon. Yes, the guy from Drumline and America’s Got Talent. But, he could surprise us right?  So could Neil Abramson, the man who directed Ringmaster. Maybe this will make a surprising night of viewing. Miramax recently released American Son on DVD.

The Movie

Mike ( Nick Cannon) is a Marine that is getting ready to ship off to Iraq in a few days as the film begins. We see Mike hang out with Jake (Matt O’Leary) ,a  drug dealing friend that Mike cares about, he just didn’t want to go down the same life path as his friend chose.

Many of Mike’s friends don’t understand his choice of a life in the military. But, Mike didn’t grow up rich and felt the Marines could provide a secure and stable life. And, he is loving the life and living the dream: just like the recruiter posters promised. 

He has begun a tentative romance with a sweet college student named Cristina (Melonie Diaz). They care about each other but he can’t bring himself to reveal that he is just days away from shipping off to the Iraqi desert. In fact, some of his own relatives don’t know that he is shipping off to the war.

It isn’t long after the first act winds to a close and the second act begins that things take a turn for the worse, in cinematic terms. What started out as a somewhat heartfelt and sincere slice of life film dissolves into some ferocious overacting and clichéd scenes and situations that try to drive home that shop worn fact that war is hell.

Trust me, Apocalypse Now and Full Metal Jacket, this is not.

Sadly, American Son becomes just another melodramatic indie war film that features actors straining at the limitations of their acting abilities and no particularly new insight or revelations about the human condition as it relates to dealing with the emotions of fighting in a war.

Nick Cannon wanted this film to showcase some previously unseen dramatic ability, perhaps to open up some new opportunities for him. All I can say is that in my opinion, he needs to be happy to cashing the checks he gets from America’s Got Talent. I don’t think we are going to see an Oscar nomination from him anytime soon.

The other cast have their moments to shine, but the material is so pedestrian and tedious, the actors struggle to rise on top of it.

While I think the director and cast were well intentioned, this is a film that slips from your memory easily. It is not challenging in any way or compelling. Do yourself a favor; look up Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, Apocalypse Now or Jarhead for a cinematic exploration into the dark heart of war.


The Video

The film is presented in a widescreen format. Colors are vibrant and the black levels are decent. I did not notice any instances of grain or artifacts. While this isn’t blu ray quality, the overall image is respectable.


The Audio

The Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation here is subtle and effective throughout the film. Dialogue is properly centered and separated, and ambient sounds are handled well.  There are optional subtitles available .


The Packaging and Bonus Features

The film is presented in a standard amaray case with an understated photo of Nick Cannon on the cover.

A Making of Documentary is available for your viewing pleasure. While rather standard, if you like the film, you might enjoy this. A commentary with director Neil Abramson is offered.

Rounding things out is a trailer and deleted scenes.


Overall (Not an average) 3/10

The Review
The Movie 3/10
The Video 6/10
The Audio 6/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 5/10
Overall (Not an Average) 3/10