How far would you go if a family member were involved in criminal activity? What can you do when little white lies turn into dark secrets? These topics are explored in the new suspenseful crime drama Hammer when a father catches his estranged son fleeing from a botched drug deal. Writer/director Christian Sparkes brilliantly captures life in a small suburban border town and how crime can affect the criminals and their families.
Chris Davis (Mark O’Brien; The Last Tycoon, Arrival) is returning to his hometown from a trip across the border. Along the long road surrounded by beautiful, vast wilderness, Chris meets up with Adams (Ben Cotton; Spielberg’s Taken, Stargate: Atlantis) and Lori (Dayle McLeod; The Expanse, The L.A. Complex) and it is clear the three are into something illegal. The three continue the journey, but are soon interrupted by a suspiciously downed motorcyclist, who obviously is not what he seems. The encounter, which I will not spoil here, leaves Chris fleeing for his life on the motorcycle.
Concurrently, we meet Chris’s father, Stephen Davis (Will Patton; Remember the Titans, Armageddon, and 100+ other credits in a distinguished career). Stephen and his unnamed wife (no name that I caught during the movie, but the credits identify “Karen Davis” played by Vickie Papavs) are dealing with the emotional repercussions of putting her father in a nursing home. She wants to bring her father to live in Chris’s room because it’s “not being used” but Stephen is opposed to the idea because he does not want to “give up” on their son, whom we later learn they have not spoken to in over a year.
These plot lines cross, conveniently, when Stephen is parked at a stoplight and Chris rides past him on the motorcycle. Stephen immediately follows and gets swept up in Chris’s attempts to settle his high, illegal debts. Together, the two “embark on a violent odyssey” that touches on fatherhood and family.
The story is dramatic and emotionally charged dealing with a few topics that anybody might experience in their lifetime, whether we are ready or not. Many have us have to deal with aging parents eventually, so that subplot might sting. Being a parent probably has its emotional baggage as well (I am not a parent, so I cannot fully speak to this, though I do help my sister with her kids) that is heartbreakingly explored. My only gripe with the film would be the length; I feel they could have explored more of these elements without making it too bloated and bogged down. Aside from that, I loved the actors, the music, and the scenery, all of which complemented the story well and I would highly recommend this film.