‘House of Hammer’ review: Discovery+ series tries to connect Armie Hammer’s allegations to his family history

Hammer has been under investigation for sexual assault since 2021, after a woman accused him of rape. He has not been charged and has denied any wrongdoing, saying at the time through his lawyer that the allegation, stemming from an alleged encounter in 2017, was ‘outrageous’ and said his interactions with the woman and other partners had been “completely consensual, discussed and agreed upon in advance.”

A spokesperson for the LA County District Attorney’s Office told CNN on Thursday that the case is still under investigation. “A specially appointed prosecutor is working with law enforcement as they continue their investigation,” he said, adding that evidence will be assessed once it is submitted.

Amid the publicity surrounding the rape allegation and the posting of private DMs on Instagram, the actor later retired from film and television projects, including “Shotgun Wedding,” a film starring Jennifer Lopez; and a streaming series, “The Offer,” based on the making of “The Godfather” movie.

Announcing his exit from the former, Hammer released a statement calling the “online attacks” against him “vicious and misleading.”

CNN reached out to a rep for Hammer for comment on the series, who notes that Hammer declined to be interviewed.

“House of Hammer” spends most of its first chapter exposing the allegations against Hammer, including interviews with two women, Courtney Vucekovich and Julia Morrison, regarding their relationships with him.

Yet “House of Hammer” goes way beyond that part of the story, expanding to encompass “dark misdeeds,” as Hammer’s aunt Casey Hammer put it, paired with other members of the Hammer family, tracing back to patriarch Armand Hammer, the billionaire. oil tycoon.

This is where the series often feels like it goes too far, not just in its stylistic choices – with eerie music and panning cameras down dark hallways – but in seemingly attempting to portray the Hammers’ alleged behavior in the over the years as something more than excesses associated with power and privilege, but almost a kind of inherited evil.

Casey Hammer thus becomes a centerpiece of the docuseries, having written a book, “Surviving My Birthright”, alleging abusive or unsavory behavior associated with the men in her family. Near the end of the docuseries, she meets Vucekovich, praising her for the courage to speak out, amid depictions of the social media abuse she and others have suffered for doing so.

“House of Hammer” clearly has a story to tell, but its salacious approach lacks focus or discipline to do justice to its more intriguing aspects.

Specifically, it must be proven that the members of the Hammer family used their wealth and the political power associated with it to avoid the consequences. The depth of those ties is reinforced by footage of Armand Hammer dating presidents, appearing on talk shows and rubbing shoulders with high society, having hosted a private event in Palm Beach with Prince Charles and Princess Diana. in 1985, five years before his death.

Yet trying to directly link various alleged transgressions across generations is likely to be problematic. Directors Elli Hakami and Julian P. Hobbs continue to return to this theme, however, as well as more contemporary questions surrounding the “Call Me By Your Name” star and whether his career can resume in the future.

While the issues surrounding Armie Hammer remain understandable sources of fascination and media attention, the extent to which these issues can be traced to his family history is a trickier proposition. Perhaps that’s why it feels like Discovery+ built “House of Hammer” on a shaky foundation.

“House of Hammer” premieres September 2 on Discovery+.