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Hammerle On … '3 Days to Kill' and 'Non-Stop'

Robert Hammerle
March 12, 2014
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bob hammerle movie reviewsYears ago, Indianapolis’ late, great criminal defense lawyer Owen Mullin brought me on board to help him with trials as he aged. Spending a lot of time with him, he would frequently be approached by other lawyers and asked, “Ownie, when are you going to quit this business?” to which Mr. Mullin responded, “You don’t quit the practice of law, it quits you.”

Whether that rule actually has some merit to the practice of criminal law, it definitely does not apply to the cinema. Both Kevin Costner and Liam Neeson proved that with their recent films, “3 Days to Kill” and “Non-Stop.” Though both films have fundamentally ludicrous concepts, these guys are living proof that great acting can overcome flaws in any script.

While Costner may be 59 and Neeson is 61, both are mean as a snake. Costner’s CIA hitman may be dying from brain cancer, but his assassin abilities make him look like James Bond on Social Security.

Neeson is an alcoholic air marshal who is dancing on the edge of a psychotic breakdown. On the other hand, when on a transatlantic flight to London, he literally kicks the living crap out of many unfortunate innocent passengers as he tries to locate a terrorist threatening to blow everyone into kingdom come. You keep waiting for him to mumble, “Sorry, buddy, I hope your scars heal.”hammerle-actionfilms.jpg

“3 Days to Kill” was easier to take for me given that it involved moments of genuinely amusing interaction between Costner’s character and a family whom he walked away from years earlier. Hailee Steinfeld is truly wonderful as a teenage girl who will only address her missing father by his first name.

What makes the film fun is the gradual bridge built between father and daughter, frequently resulting in cell phone calls that interrupt dad during a brutal interrogation of a vicious suspect. Wait for the moment where Costner hands the phone to a petrified, Italian terrorist target, forcing him to converse with Steinfeld’s character to help her make some decent pasta. At all times Steinfeld reminds everyone of her brilliant performance in the remake of “True Grit” (2010).

Finally, you are not likely to forget the stunning performance by Amber Heard, here playing Costner’s extraordinarily hot CIA boss. The scene where she is straddling him in her 5-inch heels as he lays wounded on the pavement, wearing a tight, short dress with black seams running up the back of her nylons is as sexually unnerving as when Margot Robbie stuck her high heel into Leonardo DiCaprio’s forehead as they both were on the floor in “The Wolf of Wall Street.

Along that same line, Neeson embraces his role as a deranged air marshal with the same enthusiasm that he brought to “The Grey” (2011) and the regrettable “Taken” films (2008 and 2012). He is helped immensely by the talented Julianne Moore, here playing a passenger sitting next to him on the plane whose life is nearly as pathetic as his.

Costner kills because that is his job, and Neeson dismisses constitutional rights as if they are a regrettable aggravation. In the end, you end up liking Costner’s agent because he is trying to connect with a lost life, while you get the feeling that Neeson’s humorless character could only find future employment working for Russian President Putin in Crimea.

2014 Academy Awards

If you followed my Oscar predictions, I can only hope that you did not put good money on them. While I hit more than I missed, the failure of “American Hustle” to get one blasted award was profoundly disappointing.

On the other hand, unlike 2012, I couldn’t disagree with any of the winners. For a whole host of reasons, Best Picture winner “12 Years a Slave” was a powerful film. Its only real handicap dealt with the fact that it revealed a moment in American history that we would rather forget, and as a result it was a mesmerizing film that was anything but entertaining.

Lupita Nyong’o deserved her Supporting Actress Oscar, and her acceptance speech was fabulous. As for my pick of June Squibb from “Nebraska,” I once again followed my heart instead of my head. How could I not root for an 84-year-old woman?

Cate Blanchett and Jared Leto were easy picks in their categories, and their acceptance speeches were also brilliant. And though Matthew McConaughey won out over Chiwetel Ejiofor, his performance will justifiably be remembered for a very long time.hammerle-oscars.jpg

The one thing that I did accurately predict was that “Gravity” would dominate in the production areas. While I loved that film, I had the good fortune of seeing it at the IMAX in 3-D. Ironically, I just don’t know how well it can play at home no matter how large your TV screen may be.

Two final observations. It remains hard to understand how a film like “American Hustle” could be left out in the cold despite the fact that all of its actors were nominated as well as director David O. Russell. Good grief, I loudly applauded both “12 Years a Slave” and “Dallas Buyers Club.” However, the box office for “American Hustle” more than doubled the combined total of both of them, and Hollywood can’t simply ignore the opinion of those who treasure the movie experience.

Lastly, the Friday before the Oscars I received a cryptic email from my youngest sister in southern Indiana. Married with two children, she said the following: “Don’t tell my 14-year-old daughter, but I would have sex with Jared Leto any place at any time.” I sent her an email in response that read, “Don’t tell your 14-year-old daughter this either, but so would I!”

And before finding fault with me or my twisted sister, what if all you could remember of the Oscars was the completely smashed Liza Minnelli or the surgically scarred Kim Novak? Like it or not, sometimes an idiotic imagination is far superior to reality.•

__________

Robert Hammerle practices criminal law in Indianapolis. When he is not in the courtroom or working diligently in his Pennsylvania Street office, Bob can likely be found at one of his favorite movie theaters watching and preparing to review the latest films. To read more of his reviews, visit www.bigmouthbobs.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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  1. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  2. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

  3. Diversity is important, but with some limitations. For instance, diversity of experience is a great thing that can be very helpful in certain jobs or roles. Diversity of skin color is never important, ever, under any circumstance. To think that skin color changes one single thing about a person is patently racist and offensive. Likewise, diversity of values is useless. Some values are better than others. In the case of a supreme court justice, I actually think diversity is unimportant. The justices are not to impose their own beliefs on rulings, but need to apply the law to the facts in an objective manner.

  4. Have been seeing this wonderful physician for a few years and was one of his patients who told him about what we were being told at CVS. Multiple ones. This was a witch hunt and they shold be ashamed of how patients were treated. Most of all, CVS should be ashamed for what they put this physician through. So thankful he fought back. His office is no "pill mill'. He does drug testing multiple times a year and sees patients a minimum of four times a year.

  5. Brian W, I fear I have not been sufficiently entertaining to bring you back. Here is a real laugh track that just might do it. When one is grabbed by the scruff of his worldview and made to choose between his Confession and his profession ... it is a not a hard choice, given the Confession affects eternity. But then comes the hardship in this world. Imagine how often I hear taunts like yours ... "what, you could not even pass character and fitness after they let you sit and pass their bar exam ... dude, there must really be something wrong with you!" Even one of the Bishop's foremost courtiers said that, when explaining why the RCC refused to stand with me. You want entertaining? How about watching your personal economy crash while you have a wife and five kids to clothe and feed. And you can't because you cannot work, because those demanding you cast off your Confession to be allowed into "their" profession have all the control. And you know that they are wrong, dead wrong, and that even the professional code itself allows your Faithful stand, to wit: "A lawyer may refuse to comply with an obligation imposed by law upon a good faith belief that no valid obligation exists. The provisions of Rule 1.2(d) concerning a good faith challenge to the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law apply to challenges of legal regulation of the practice of law." YET YOU ARE A NONPERSON before the BLE, and will not be heard on your rights or their duties to the law -- you are under tyranny, not law. And so they win in this world, you lose, and you lose even your belief in the rule of law, and demoralization joins poverty, and very troubling thoughts impeaching self worth rush in to fill the void where your career once lived. Thoughts you did not think possible. You find yourself a failure ... in your profession, in your support of your family, in the mirror. And there is little to keep hope alive, because tyranny rules so firmly and none, not the church, not the NGO's, none truly give a damn. Not even a new court, who pay such lip service to justice and ancient role models. You want entertainment? Well if you are on the side of the courtiers running the system that has crushed me, as I suspect you are, then Orwell must be a real riot: "There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever." I never thought they would win, I always thought that at the end of the day the rule of law would prevail. Yes, the rule of man's law. Instead power prevailed, so many rules broken by the system to break me. It took years, but, finally, the end that Dr Bowman predicted is upon me, the end that she advised the BLE to take to break me. Ironically, that is the one thing in her far left of center report that the BLE (after stamping, in red ink, on Jan 22) is uninterested in, as that the BLE and ADA office that used the federal statute as a sword now refuses to even dialogue on her dire prediction as to my fate. "C'est la vie" Entertaining enough for you, status quo defender?

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