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Case Number 19953

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The Hitman Diaries: Charlie Valentine

Lionsgate // 2009 // 96 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Roy Hrab (Retired) // October 21st, 2010

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All Rise...

Judge Roy Hrab would have preferred a hitman who owned a dairy farm.

The Charge

This could be their last hit.

Opening Statement

There are good gangster films. There are average gangster films. And there are bad gangster films, like The Hitman Dairies: Charlie Valentine.

Facts of the Case

Charlie Valentine (Raymond J. Barry, Dead Man Walking) is an aging gangster. For reasons unknown, he decides to rob his boss, Rocco (James Russo, Donnie Brasco). The plan fails, forcing Charlie to leave town, stealing Rocco's car in the process. With Rocco's thugs pursuing him, Charlie ends up on the West Coast, reuniting with his son, Danny (Michael Weatherly, NCIS). After a couple of days of getting reacquainted, Danny asks Charlie to teach him how to be a gangster. Charlie obliges with non-hilarious results.

The Evidence

The Hitman Dairies: Charlie Valentine is a mediocre movie on almost every level: title, story, acting, writing, and production values.

I do not know why the film has "The Hitman Dairies" tag. There is nothing establishing Charlie as a hitman. He's just an old, mid-level criminal. There is a hit put out of him by Rocco, I suppose, but that's a pretty weak reason for "The Hitman Dairies" moniker. Perhaps the producers think they have a franchise on their hands. Well, they don't.

The story is derivative, lame, and poorly thought out. Old gangster wants to pull one last big score and retire. Things go horribly wrong. He runs for his life. He reunites with someone from his past. The people he cares about are put at risk. He has to decide whether to skip town or face the music…blah, blah, blah. This film brings nothing new to the table.

The story has an extremely awkward flow. There are flashbacks that don't add-up to anything, scenes that don't go anywhere, and characters that are abruptly dropped from the film, such as Charlie's parole officer (Tom Berenger, Inception). Further, the motivations of the characters are never explained. It's never clear why Danny wants to be like Charlie. Why did Charlie want to rip-off Rocco? Why did Rocco give Charlie the keys to his car in the first place?

The acting is no better than the story. Barry is pretty stiff. He speaks in a very slow, deliberate way all the time, putting a huge emphasis on pronouncing every word correctly. However, given Charlie's background, this doesn't appear to make much sense. It also gets to be annoying. Weatherly fares little better as Danny. His role (as with everything else) is poorly written and we have no idea about what makes him tick. The supporting cast, including Steve Bauer (Scarface), delivers typical B-movie performances.

Technically, the film is uneven. The video has good color and detail for the most part. However, there is some grain and in a cemetery scene you can see a reflection of Barry, as if the shot had been filmed through a window or behind a pane of glass. The audio is a mixed bag. The dialogue is not always clear and sometimes drifts out.

The extras include a commentary track with Director/Writer Jesse Johnson, Cinematographer Jonathan Hall, and Line Producer Kelli Kaye. They appear to firmly believe they've produced a good film and take much pride in their work, if only it were true. Also included are a trailer and an overly effusive "Making-Of" featurette with the cast and crew.

Closing Statement

There is no reason to watch this.

The Verdict

Guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 80
Audio: 60
Extras: 40
Acting: 40
Story: 20
Judgment: 35

Perp Profile

Studio: Lionsgate
Video Formats:
• 2.35:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Subtitles:
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 96 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated R
Genres:
• Bad
• Crime
• Drama
• Gangster

Distinguishing Marks

• Commentary
• Featurette
• Trailer

Accomplices

• IMDb
• Official Site








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