Partner, Starn O’Toole Marcus & Fisher
What is your official title/occupation?
I am a litigation partner with the Honolulu law firm of Starn O’Toole Marcus & Fisher. I was previously Hawaii’s attorney general from 2003 to 2010, and a federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., and Honolulu from 1980 to 1989.
Where and with whom did you see the movie? I saw the movie in Titan XC with my wife, Pat Ohara, at Consolidated Ward 16 Theatres.
Overall, what did you think? I enjoyed the movie, though it paints (an appropriately) dark picture of the drug trade and those involved. There is neither lightness nor humor in the movie.
Although a good part of the movie is believable because of my background as a prosecutor, I had trouble getting past a major premise: that a never-before arrested young man would be denied bail pending trial in federal court for receiving even a large quantity of “ecstasy.” That would not happen. To me, though, a movie succeeds if at the end, the moviegoer enjoyed the experience, and both Pat and I enjoyed Snitch, so to us it succeeded.
Without giving away the ending, what was one of your favorite scenes? The characters played by Dwayne Johnson and John Berthnal go to visit Berthnal’s old minor league “crime boss” Malik, (Michael Kenneth Williams). Johnson wants to do a drug deal for the feds to get some leniency for his incarcerated son, and needs Berthnal to introduce him to Malik.
I thought the scene that portrayed the visit to Malik’s home/place of business – a nasty, poor, dirty, gritty, uninviting place – was very effective. Being a small-time hood running a drug operation is, at its best, pretty bad. That message was starkly and effectively conveyed in this scene.
On a scale of one to four stars, what would you rate this film? ★★ 1/2
What did you think of the cinematography? Excellent. I thought every scene was shot thoughtfully and effectively. Sometimes cinematography almost seems an afterthought, and sometimes it simply detracts. Here, I thought it was a big plus for the movie.
Was the message/theme clear? To me, there were two messages: 1) Mandatory minimums for first-time drug offenders are a bad idea; and 2) There is nothing fun or glamorous about the drug trade – it is a nasty, dangerous business with no winners.
To whom would you recommend this movie? Adults, though not those who are expecting a light movie or what would normally be thought of as a pure “action” movie.
Did any of the actors stand out? I thought John Berthnal’s portrayal of the ex-con employee trying to live a clean life, but dragged unwillingly into his employer’s problems, was excellent. Berthnal conveyed a portrait of a man really trying to do the right thing while overwhelmed by temptation and the insistence of his employer. He gave a thoughtful, nuanced performance.
Did you identify with any of the characters? No. I would have liked to have identified with the federal prosecutor (Susan Sarandon), but couldn’t, because her character seemed interested in her own political future and little else. Virtually everyone else was a criminal, an almost-criminal or an ex-criminal.
Would you buy this movie when it comes out on DVD? No, I think seeing it once was enough, although, as I said, I enjoyed it.
What’s your favorite movie snack?
Nachos with lots of jalapeños.
On a different note, what’s new with you? I very much enjoy being back in private practice and trying to help businesses and individuals solve serious legal problems, including in court. Our firm’s website, which describes who we are and what we do, is starnlaw.com.