Harsh Times Reviews

Rex Reed
New York Observer
Top Critic
November 15, 2006

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.

Richard Roeper
Ebert & Roeper
Top Critic
November 13, 2006

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.


St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic
November 11, 2006


Arizona Republic
Top Critic
November 11, 2006


Dallas Morning News
Top Critic
November 11, 2006

Full Review | Original Score: D

Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic
November 11, 2006

Peter Howell
Toronto Star
Top Critic
November 10, 2006

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

Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Roger Moore
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic
November 10, 2006

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

Full Review | Original Score: 2/5
John Hartl
Seattle Times
Top Critic
November 10, 2006

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

Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Ruthe Stein
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic
November 10, 2006

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

Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Terry Lawson
Detroit Free Press
Top Critic
November 10, 2006

...As well-written and acted as Harsh Times may be, you will be relieved when the adrenaline returns to an acceptable level.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
Top Critic
November 10, 2006

It's true that we don't need to like characters for a movie to work. We should, however, at least find them interesting.

Full Review | Original Score: 1.5/4
Stephen Holden
New York Times
Top Critic
November 10, 2006

The film builds to a melodramatic finale that would like to make you weep, but by then it has worn out your patience.

| Original Score: 2/5
Kyle Smith
New York Post
Top Critic
November 10, 2006

Ayer's writing is loaded with wit and malice.

| Original Score: 3.5/4
Jack Mathews
New York Daily News
Top Critic
November 10, 2006

Though Bale has the presence of a young De Niro, and the same volatile edge, he's being asked here to fill out a role that doesn't ring true on any level.

Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
Peter Debruge
Miami Herald
Top Critic
November 10, 2006

Ayer romanticizes a certain type of true-grit persona and relies on actors tough enough to pull it off.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Michael Ordoņa
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic
November 10, 2006

The slang, the modes of dress, even the styles of fighting all have a high degree of specificity that lifts the movie above most urban crime dramas.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Bruce Westbrook
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic
November 10, 2006

It's an ugly, brutal picture, and it's not about 'times' but rather timeless macho posturing run amok.

Full Review | Original Score: 1.5/4
Rick Groen
Globe and Mail
Top Critic
November 10, 2006

Harsh Times opens with a deadly nightmare and ends with a vast bloodbath - in between, things get a little gruesome.

Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Tom Long
Detroit News
Top Critic
November 10, 2006

...The movie consists of waiting for what you know is going to come. Waiting some more. And then waiting some more.

Full Review | Original Score: C-
Robert Denerstein
Denver Rocky Mountain News
Top Critic
November 10, 2006

...For all its hyped-up acting moments, Harsh Times fails to get under our skin.

Full Review | Original Score: C+
Bill Zwecker
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic
November 10, 2006

This is a powerful film that combines a number of 'what if' situations with some true tragic moments and even a number of oddly funny situations.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Wesley Morris
Boston Globe
Top Critic
November 10, 2006

...If the movie is a comment on the dire straits of our returning soldiers, it's unconvincing.

Full Review | Original Score: 1.5/4
J. R. Jones
Chicago Reader
Top Critic
November 9, 2006

[A] sour but haunting tale.

Desson Thomson
Washington Post
Top Critic
November 9, 2006

The film amounts to a harsh and perpetual assault on viewers' sensibilities -- not only because of its violence but because of its overall bleakness.

Gene Seymour
Newsday
Top Critic
November 9, 2006

[A] messy, exasperating, but fascinating excursion through the darker corners of neighborhoods at risk -- and of one man's mind.

Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Michael Wilmington
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic
November 9, 2006

Harsh Times is almost a good, salty urban thriller.

Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Steve Murray
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Top Critic
November 9, 2006

The film is basically a two-hour countdown to a predictable explosion. You may enjoy the ride, but you won't remember a whole lot about it farther down the road.

Full Review | Original Score: C+
Noel Murray
AV Club
Top Critic
November 9, 2006

An alternately tough and ridiculous thriller.

Full Review | Original Score: B-
James Berardinelli
ReelViews
Top Critic
November 9, 2006

Few individuals who go off to war and experience its devastation and chaos return as the same person. This factor lies at the heart of what Harsh Times illustrates.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
David Germain
Associated Press
Top Critic
November 8, 2006

Unpleasantly grim and often nasty just to be nasty, writer-director David Ayer's Harsh Times is more an ordeal than a movie.

Lisa Schwarzbaum
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic
November 8, 2006

Bale is mesmerizing and Rodriguez keeps up with him as the whole unsafe contraption zooms.

Full Review | Original Score: B+
Jim Ridley
Village Voice
Top Critic
November 7, 2006

[Bale's performance is] the kind of vein-popping show-boating that might as well be performed in a mirror.

Frank Scheck
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic
November 6, 2006

A vivid but ultimately wearisome portrait of Los Angeles' violent underbelly, redeemed by a powerfully intense lead performance from Christian Bale.


Time Out
Top Critic
August 17, 2006

[Screenwriter David Ayer] goes for the jugular at all times -- once, quite literally -- and the grainy, handheld camerawork adds to the scuzzy authenticity.

Todd McCarthy
Variety
Top Critic
September 29, 2005

When your model is clearly Taxi Driver, a lack of directorial flair is especially conspicuous.