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Harsh Times (2006)



Average Rating: 5.5/10
Reviews Counted: 98
Fresh: 47 | Rotten: 51

Despite a dedicated performance by Christian Bale, Harsh Times suffers from a heavy-handed and overly bleak plot.


Average Rating: 5.3/10
Critic Reviews: 32
Fresh: 12 | Rotten: 20

Despite a dedicated performance by Christian Bale, Harsh Times suffers from a heavy-handed and overly bleak plot.



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Average Rating: 3.2/5
User Ratings: 90,697

My Rating

Movie Info

An unstable Gulf War veteran with a savior complex receives a shocking wake-up call upon returning stateside and accepting a position with the Department of Homeland Security in the directorial debut of Training Day screenwriter David Ayer. Jim (Christian Bale) is a Gulf War veteran who believes his sworn duty to protect his fellow Americans extends to the streets of Los Angeles, and he longs to fulfill his destiny by joining the LAPD. Rejected by the force and left to ponder his future with his


Drama, Action & Adventure

Mar 13, 2007


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All Critics (105) | Top Critics (35) | Fresh (47) | Rotten (51) | DVD (20)

Harsh Times is an hour-by-hour diary of two crazy, unreliable, irresponsible dudes trying to find a way to fit into the same society they hate, facing one hurdle after another until they appear to butcher half of Los Angeles.

November 15, 2006 Full Review Source: New York Observer
New York Observer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Jim is such a psycho and Mike is such a patsy, we don't care about these guys. We've seen dozens of more interesting head cases in dozens of smarter films.

November 13, 2006 Full Review Source: Ebert & Roeper
Ebert & Roeper
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Harsh Times is so into its own nihilism, it sometimes forgets the humanity beneath the hurt.

November 10, 2006 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Endless scenes of the two guys riding along, venting and cursing and chugging beers play like acting-class exercises, badly written ones at that.

November 10, 2006 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Ayer makes his directing debut with Harsh Times, which is so relentlessly grim that it occasionally goes over the top and invites derision.

November 10, 2006 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

For a neophyte director, Ayer displays a lot of style.

November 10, 2006 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A crazy little film, modest in its scope but grand in its ambition. It paints it's story in loud primary colors, with intense pressure cooker characterizations.

May 5, 2008 Full Review Source:

HARSH TIMES is a portrait of a male-dominated world and inChristian Bale's fierce performance, Ayer has found the perfect actor. It's just unfortunate that the screenplay feels like a left-over from an era that has passed.

July 14, 2007 Full Review Source: Murphy's Movie Reviews
Murphy's Movie Reviews

just like its protagonist, Harsh Times is fatally flawed, but in a manner that still remains compelling to watch.

July 9, 2007 Full Review Source: Eye for Film
Eye for Film

A movie that seems gritty and pointless for its first third, begins to grow in meaning as the pointlessness snowballs into absurdity and then tragedy.

March 27, 2007 Full Review Source:

It's an amazing performance, one of the best of the year, with Bale truly making you believe in this over-the-top character.

March 24, 2007 Full Review Source: UGO

Por alguns instantes, o filme parece ter algo relevante a dizer sobre a desumanização provocada pela guerra ou o niilismo de uma geração entediada e descrente, mas constatamos que quer apenas chocar, desperdiçando as ótimas atuações de Bale e Rodriguez.

December 29, 2006
Cinema em Cena

A gritty, automobile-intensive, buddy flick rather reminiscent of director David Ayer's similarly amoral Training Day.

December 25, 2006 Full Review Source:

Harsh Times is dark and brutal, not the kind of film that lures a large audience or garners awards, although it deserves both.

December 4, 2006 Full Review Source: Film Journal International | Comment (1)
Film Journal International

The mix of black humor and pitiless drama makes for a very effective cinematic slow burn

November 25, 2006 Full Review Source: Capital Times (Madison, WI)
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

Harsh Times wins in the end by keeping its fingers wrapped tightly around its viewers' throats.

November 25, 2006 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

Jim Davis (Christian Bale) may be the most aggressively self-destructive character since Johnny Boy Civello in 'Mean Streets.'

November 19, 2006 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

None of these characters are the least bit likeable, and that's the fault of David Ayer, who structures the film as a series of mostly disconnected episodes with a single theme:

November 18, 2006
Greenwich Village Gazette

Ayer has a feel for the grimy underside of urban life...

November 16, 2006 Full Review Source: Sacramento News & Review
Sacramento News & Review

We don't like the view from this dark place, but is that a flaw or precisely the point?

November 15, 2006 Full Review Source: Zertinet Movies
Zertinet Movies

Bale's wild-eyed menace keeps you watching for a time, but by the grisly end he's just another American psycho.

November 14, 2006 Full Review Source: Boulder Weekly | Comment (1)

"Harsh Times" is a tragedy whose finale is obvious right from the start.

November 14, 2006 Full Review | Comment (1)
Quad City Times (Davenport, IA)

As a character study it lacks characterization, and it's too predictable to be an effective cautionary tale.

November 14, 2006 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

Ayer's overly flashy direction epitomizes how the film never finds the right balance between too much and too little.

November 13, 2006 Full Review

Audience Reviews for Harsh Times

I didn't see any Harsh Times, all I saw was stupid decisions. The serious issue of post-traumatic stress is insensitively handled and the characters are generally hateful. I'm not sure what the film was trying to say or what the film makers were trying to achieve but I'm pretty sure they didn't succeed. The acting improved vastly towards the end of the film but the conclusion, just like the rest of the film, was pretty damn awful.
September 24, 2013

Super Reviewer

I was excited to watch Harsh Times cause 1) They had Christian Bale 2) Gritty crime drama Wow.. this movie was crap. The plot was one of the most dull plots to have ever existed; it starts to take off literally in the last 30 minutes. Poorly directed, edited, and shot. The screenplay had no content whatsoever. Christian Bale pulls off a very committed performance but literally everything else fails.
March 10, 2012
Albert Kim

Super Reviewer

This film just didn't capture me, but it might be a hit for you, a out of control ex gulf war veteran returns home to find a job in law enforcement and he just can't control his anger. only worth 2 1/2 stars from me.
September 18, 2011
Bruce Bruce

Super Reviewer

It was quite a good film, it takes a while to really get into but when Christian Bale's character starts to lose the plot you become a little more intrigued with the film. All in all, it was an average film.
June 24, 2011
Bethany Murphy

Super Reviewer

    1. Polygraph Expert: Jim, knock it off. Son, I've been doing polygraph examinations since you were swimming in your daddy's balls, so I know all the tricks.
    – Submitted by Boris T (22 months ago)
    1. Jim Davis: Damn, those are bad ass kicks, dawg. You're lucky you got little bitch feet, or I'd be stompin' around in those mother-f****ers
    – Submitted by Robert B (2 years ago)
View all quotes (2)

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