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.
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.
| Original Score: D
Harsh Times is so into its own nihilism, it sometimes forgets the humanity beneath the hurt.
| Original Score: 2.5/4
Endless scenes of the two guys riding along, venting and cursing and chugging beers play like acting-class exercises, badly written ones at that.
| Original Score: 2/5
Ayer makes his directing debut with Harsh Times, which is so relentlessly grim that it occasionally goes over the top and invites derision.
For a neophyte director, Ayer displays a lot of style.
| Original Score: 3/4
...As well-written and acted as Harsh Times may be, you will be relieved when the adrenaline returns to an acceptable level.
It's true that we don't need to like characters for a movie to work. We should, however, at least find them interesting.
| Original Score: 1.5/4
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
Ayer's writing is loaded with wit and malice.
| Original Score: 3.5/4
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.
| Original Score: 2/4
Ayer romanticizes a certain type of true-grit persona and relies on actors tough enough to pull it off.
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.
| Original Score: 4/5
It's an ugly, brutal picture, and it's not about 'times' but rather timeless macho posturing run amok.
Harsh Times opens with a deadly nightmare and ends with a vast bloodbath - in between, things get a little gruesome.
...The movie consists of waiting for what you know is going to come. Waiting some more. And then waiting some more.
| Original Score: C-
...For all its hyped-up acting moments, Harsh Times fails to get under our skin.
| Original Score: C+
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.
...If the movie is a comment on the dire straits of our returning soldiers, it's unconvincing.
[A] sour but haunting tale.
The film amounts to a harsh and perpetual assault on viewers' sensibilities -- not only because of its violence but because of its overall bleakness.
[A] messy, exasperating, but fascinating excursion through the darker corners of neighborhoods at risk -- and of one man's mind.
Harsh Times is almost a good, salty urban thriller.
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.
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.
Unpleasantly grim and often nasty just to be nasty, writer-director David Ayer's Harsh Times is more an ordeal than a movie.
Bale is mesmerizing and Rodriguez keeps up with him as the whole unsafe contraption zooms.
| Original Score: B+
[Bale's performance is] the kind of vein-popping show-boating that might as well be performed in a mirror.
A vivid but ultimately wearisome portrait of Los Angeles' violent underbelly, redeemed by a powerfully intense lead performance from Christian Bale.
[Screenwriter David Ayer] goes for the jugular at all times -- once, quite literally -- and the grainy, handheld camerawork adds to the scuzzy authenticity.
When your model is clearly Taxi Driver, a lack of directorial flair is especially conspicuous.