Director: David Ayer
Cast: Christian Bale, Freddy Rodriguez, Eva
Longoria, Tammy Trull
RunTime: 2 hrs
Released By: Shaw
Rating: M18 Coarse Language & Violence)
Official Website: http://www.harshtimes.com
Opening Day: 11 January 2007
From the creator of TRAINING DAY comes a taut, authentic,
coming of age drama – featuring an intense, gritty performance
from Christian Bale – about two best friends who, in
spite of their best efforts and the women who love them, are
unable to escape the streets…
Army Ranger JIM DAVIS (Christian Bale) hasn’t been able
to get his life back on track since he came home from the
Gulf War. Plagued by nightmares and unwilling to take a desk
job, he burned through his savings waiting for an offer from
the L.A.P.D. that never panned out. He tells himself that
if he only had a job, everything would turn around –
he could marry his devoted Mexican girlfriend, MARTA, and
bring her back to the States and settle down…
in the meantime, he’s just killing time with his friend
MIKE (Freddy Rodriguez), who’s also unemployed. Mike’s
high-powered girlfriend, SYLVIA (Eva Longoria), is sick of
hearing his excuses, so Jim offers to help Mike find a job;
instead they just end up cruising the streets of South Central
looking for trouble. They drop in on Jim’s ex-girlfriend,
and get jumped by her boyfriend and his homeboys. They get
deeper and deeper into the streets, and unwittingly sew the
seeds of their own destruction.
Crime dramas have increasingly gravitated towards edgier,
grittier stories, perhaps as a reflection of life as it is,
that it's never black and white, and always full of grey.
Besides, it allows actors to take on roles that aren't plain
old boring goody-two-shoes cop types. Coming to mind are movies
such as Narc for Jason Patric, Spartan for Val Kilmer, Training
Day for Denzel Washington, and now, Harsh Times.
put, this is a Christian Bale vehicle, for the acclaimed actor
to showcase once more why he's one of the hottest stars of
today. As Jim Luther Davis, he's one confused Gulf War veteran,
back in South Central Los Angeles, trying to look for a job
in law enforcement. While highly charged but effective as
a soldier, his behaviour, as it unfolds, casts doubts on his
suitability in upholding the law and maintaining the peace.
Bale, being no stranger to dark psychotic roles having had
stints in American Psycho, and perhaps even Batman with his
duality, plays Jim convincingly to a T, with his ability to
flip intensities seamlessly, treading the line between pure
madness and self-pity at a flick of a switch.
and directed by David Ayer, who also wrote the screenplays
for crime drama Training Day, and brotherhood bonds in Fast
and Furious, no doubt followed a similar formula he employed
in developing a sidekick for his main character. With Training
Day, you had Ethan Hawke as the straight-laced cop playing
off Denzel Washington, and Paul Walker as the undercover opposite
however, the sidekick role is relatively weak, in having Freddy
Rodriguez as Mike Alonzo, best buddy of Jim. A good for nothing
loafer seeking unsuccessful employment, his character does
nothing much, lacking the strong counterbalance to Bale's
character and performance. Perhaps it's as much as his role
as the follower, the weak willed man with henpecked tendencies,
with little ambition and no mind of his own.
soundtrack is a mirror to its mood, having plenty of rock,
punk, electronic tracks punctuate the movie for most parts
of the first half. For fans of Eva "Desperate Housewife"
Longoria who might have spotted her in the trailer and want
to check her out in this movie, well, her performance and
role here is nothing to shout about, as per her debut big
screen appearance in The Sentinel - totally wasted, and still
casted in a purely "chick" role with the usual comments
made about her rear.
be a test of patience watching this movie, as almost half
the time is spent in having both Jim and Mike cruise the streets
in their car in intermittent periods, spewing tough dialogue,
consuming drugs and booze, and exhibiting erratic behaviour,
as they follow the road down self destruction. Along the way,
the duo get involved in a whole myriad of subplots, you'll
probably need a road map to keep track of where things are.
And having these subplots tangent off and returning at a later
time, it didn't help that the movie just drags on without
any end in sight.
if you're willing to accompany Jim and Mike on their wild,
trippy journey through the underbelly of society, and are
a Bale fan enough to witness his dalliance on both sides of
the law, then this movie would be for you.
(Christian Bale's excellent performance redeems this meandering
movie with seemingly no end to the grit)
by Stefan Shih