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Harsh Times Reviews

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Anthony L

Super Reviewer

September 24, 2013
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.
Albert K

Super Reviewer

October 2, 2011
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.
bbcfloridabound
bbcfloridabound

Super Reviewer

September 18, 2011
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.
murphmann93
murphmann93

Super Reviewer

June 24, 2011
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.
Cynthia S

Super Reviewer

May 31, 2011
Not my favorite Christian Bale movie, that's for sure. Bale goes way over the top playing an unlikeable, obnoxious, arrogant, self destructive idiot. All the characters here are mostly unlikeable to a degree that I almost didn't care to watch. I followed this through to the bitter end, but it goes where you think it will.
Dean !

Super Reviewer

June 27, 2007
This film does feel like it's on auto pilot for a lot of the time. The first 3/4 of the film are just a couple of days in the life of a couple of friends, just slacking and chilling out. Then things get worse as Christian Bale's character starts to lose the plot!
garyX
garyX

Super Reviewer

April 30, 2007
A Gulf war veteran and "homie" cruise the streets of L.A. on the pretext of looking for work getting wasted and dabbling in street crime. Harsh Times sounds like the kind of gritty urban crime drama in the vein of Narc or Training Day, but it is in fact a rather aimless movie that enjoys showing lots of "homies" in the "hood" talking about their "biatches". I think there's some kind of message about post traumatic stress hidden in there somewhere, but the script was clearly written by Beavis and Butthead after a marathon session on crass Xbox game Saint's Row so the dialogue basically just consists of "Yo s'up dawg" "Word homie jus' chillin'" "We is da booooomb mutherf*cker" etc etc ad infinatum. Which is positively surreal when you see it eminating from the mouth of Christian Bale and not Snoopy Snoopy Dog Dog. There's plenty of incident because of the casual violence and drug use that is scattered throughout the "story", but ultimately the characters are so two dimensional that you don't really give a crap about any of them and far from seeming like a troubled, complex individual, Bale just comes across as the biggest asshole in the world. One of those films that can only be loved by middle class white boys who desperately want to be black.
Conner R

Super Reviewer

November 19, 2009
Christian Bale gave a truly amazing performance that was both hilarious and shocking. The style of the movie captures a great urban atmosphere. The story is an interesting look at post-war soldiers and the emotional blows that it brings.
Phil H

Super Reviewer

April 30, 2008
I was really expecting so much more with this film, the posters, title and whole look gives you a certain feeling about how its gonna go, but its very disappointing and dull. There are some nice scenes but it needs so much more.

Bale is good as the ex army boy wanting to join the cops and shows the torment of waiting for that position well, kinda depressing actually hehe

Bale is better than the movie and the movie is average, but it could of been really cool.
Jani H

Super Reviewer

July 4, 2009
"(whispering) I see dumb people..."

15 minutes into the movie and I'm like; What the fuck! Who are these guys? They're all gangsta and shit but so fuckin' ridiculous.

I hate the word "dawg". That word is probably said more times then any other word. The dialogue that comes from such a respectable actor as Christian Bale is either genuine as hell or then just simply astoundingly stupid. What the hell was he thinking when he decided to participate in the film? This is by far the worst movie Bale's ever been in. And Freddy Rodriguez ain't doing a better job either.

So many things have gone wrong here. I read a review of the movie were this guy said that this film is like 'Training Day', only with a better script, actors and director. He must've been on drugs or something. There's no way this movie could be any better than Antoine Fuqua's hit.

Maybe 10 years ago I could've been like; "Yeah, this is the shit!" But now I'm older, I appreciate well made movies with stellar acting and filmmaking. This film doesn't reach any of its potential. Such a waste.

"I'm a soldier of the apocalypse, man!"
maxthesax
maxthesax

Super Reviewer

January 2, 2009
this film enters into a world of dope smoking, beer drinking manness, where charactors act according to some unwritten code that they themselves either don't understand or chafe against.

At the center is the storm - Christian Bale portrays an ex delta force guy who is trying to land a job as a cop so he can then import and marry his Mexican girlfriend. Bale is out of control, and only becomes more so as the film progresses. The film uses jittery film flashbacks to infer his madness, but it, like the theme itself, seems both overdone and half cooked.

That there are no likable charactors is a deft touch and very real here. Freddy Rodriguez, as a slacker drunk, and wing man to Bale is as close as you can get to likeable, but he can't seem to play it straight, and when he catches a break that can turn his life around, putting him into a nice life with his attorney girlfriend, Bale demands that he accompany him on a kind of "last fling" male- bonding roadtrip - forcing Freddy to choose between guy friend and girl friend. That he chooses guy friend, reciting some backwards sense of "loyalty" (and what of his loyalty to his GF?), is simply sad, again showing that he's caught up in some kind of misplaced machismo. What is equally as sad is the GF empowering his actions by letting him continually slide (although the silent reconcilliation at the end was truly poignant).
Michael G

Super Reviewer

November 5, 2006
Christian Bale turns out his most inconsistent (or least solid if you prefer) performance as an increasingly psychotic army vet. I admire his courage to take a role he clearly wasn't meant for. His performance was puzzling, sometimes amusing and all over the road without even thinking about it. Freddy Rodriguez turns out a pretty solid performance and Eva Longoria plays the nag I imagine her to be in real life. The story r e e k s of Training Day (duh...!), starts off okay enough to leave you curious then blows up (in a bad way) by the end. Harsh Times had some great cinematography at points and a few entertaining scenes but this is by no means a movie that needed to be made or a story that had to be told.
Bannan i

Super Reviewer

June 15, 2007
To be completely honest...the only thing that really drew me towards this movie is the premise that Christian Bale would be starring in it. And, when it started...it was unlike any character I've ever seen him play.

The story is about Jim Davis {Bale] who used to be an Army Ranger and was recently discharged. He's looking for work, gets turned down by the one occupation that he requires in order to marry his Mexican girlfriend and bring her into America.

However, he still has these recurring nightmares from his job as a Ranger...and these seem to keep him up at night at times. And, the only person who can understand him is his best friend Mike [Freddy Rodriguez].

To kill the time before he finds out about the LAPD position, they chill by getting drunk, smoking weed, seeing their buddies and just hanging out. Yet, Mike is finally thinking he may actually need to get a job as his girlfriend, Sylvia [Eva Longoria] keeps pushing him to. She finally gives him an ultimatum...and he does something really stupid just in order to hang out with his best friend.

Finally, Jim finds out that the LAPD reject his application...and becomes furious and from that is just a barrel into some reactions that most people usually wouldn't have. As Mike ignores his girlfriend's pleas, the both end up cruising along the streets of South Central Los Angeles...getting involved in petty crime, theft, drugs and eventually violence...as they did when they were young.

At first, I was surprised when I heard Spanish in the beginning of this movie...having no idea what it was about...and then seeing Jim go back to America and talk like some gangsta...and then again, when addressing authorties...putting on this completely different demeanour.

It seemed a little slow at first, just two guys having fun...ignoring their responsibilities...and being totally reckless until there's a key point in the film that has Jim acting out in ways he can't even control and it comes down to Mike to pacify things a little bit...however your best friend can't always help you out.

It's certainly different, the immense development of Jim's character is amazing to see and Rodriguez does a pretty fine job playing Mike. It's interesting to see the two of them get along and interact...see what they're going to do next.
Al S

Super Reviewer

March 13, 2007
It's a harsh, gritty and exhilerating urban crime drama. It's like an adreniline rush on acid. Christian Bale is electrifying. He sets the screen on fire in every scene he's in. Freddy Rodriguez is riveting. Eva Longoria gives an impressivelly tough performance. The work by the actors is probaly better yhan what the film deserves. Director, David Ayer has an impressive style but is still ineed of a plot. A decent film but not great, mainly because there is no plot really and it's just about these two characters going out and getting into trouble. A rougher and tougher Training day but also a very blank flick.
Aaron N

Super Reviewer

October 7, 2006
Mike Alvarez: How was it like to straight up whack em up ?
Jim Davis: Point and shoot. Pop, pop - move on! You do not stop and think.

Christian Bale stars as an ex-Army Ranger with some serious issues, in a film directed by the writer of Training Day.

Bale is Jim Davis, he is searching for work in the LAPD and drives around town with his buddy Mike, played by Freddy "El Ray" Rodriguez, who is also looking for work.

These two are born and raised in South Central, LA and it shows, but Jim has desires to get a good law job and marry his girlfriend who lives in Mexico. Mike on the other hand lives with his girlfriend Sylvia, played by Eva Longoria, and is basically slumming it while looking for a job, despite his girl pestering him to do it quicker.

What these two do get done is a lot of driving around town and getting into stupid trouble involving drugs, alcohol, and guns.

Throughout the film, we also see what Jim is suffering from after serving in the military. This leads to a finale that is almost out of place, but appropriate enough.

While the story is nothing to original or hard to understand, it is made better because of Bale. Being an actor, who in real life has a very thick Welsh accent, it is impressive again and again to see him take a variety of different roles, and here is no different.

Rodriguez is also pretty good, but a little too fiery at times, which is more a fault of the script. Longoria serves her purpose, which is just about all she needs to do, besides look good. There is also a third friend that shows up in the film that I only could have wished was played by John Leguizamo.

The look of the movie works. It is done all with digital camera, which is easily apparent and does justice to having people actually driving around in LA. There are also a few trippy visual moments, which almost seem to take a page from the Tony Scott handbook.

The movie basically works, with Bale making things better, so good enough.

Sylvia: You're crazy and you're dangerous and my biggest nightmare is you with a fucking badge!
Edward B

Super Reviewer

November 2, 2007
The only thing harsh about it is the beating these two characters should take for the amount of stupid decisions they make. An interesting flick if not totally satisfying.
Lady D

Super Reviewer

July 7, 2007
I think I'll be in the minority when I say I found a large proportion of this film quite boring and for a while it seemed like it wasn't leading anywhere. At this point the performances were far more suerior to the storyline, however, when it does wake up it certainly wakes you up

VERDICT: Everyone else seems to have rated this pretty high, so you'll have to figure this one out for yourself
SilentWarProductions2009
May 18, 2007
Directed by: David Ayer.
Starring: Christian Bale, Freddy Rodriguez, Eva Longoria.

Usually I try not to review films I have only seen bits of, mainly because any film has bad points and you can't judge it from just that, but when I see nearly 3/4 of the film and I struggle to watch anymore, then I will review the film because I doubt it is likely to change.

From the writer of Training Day and in is directional debut, I was highly disappointed with David Ayers contribution to this. The plot is almost non-existent, there is no point to the film whatsoever, no themes covered, nothing new bought to the plate at all, it felt like a rehash of Training Day. The film is completely incoherent, for the first 30 minutes, we are introduced to these characters, who most likely have the IQ of around 70, it consists of them driving around, smoking weed, drinking and talking about wanting to get laid. The dialogue alone is a mess and is completely incoherent, I felt my IQ drop as I watched....and not to mention that the characters are underdeveloped and we are basically only shown that they are disrespectful people and complete morons (I guess David Ayer did well at portraying these type of people and there way of life in LA then). David Ayers directional debut is.....OK, he doesn't bring anything unique though, a lot of the shots just don't contribute to what 'themes' he is 'trying' to show, it just doesn't tell a story....and for the script, as I mentioned before its just a string of incoherent scenes and sudden shocks that just end up making no sense.....nothing compelling at all. The cinematography I do say is pretty good, its gritty and adds a feel to the film, but it can't make up for what the camera is doing. Christian Bale....he is one of my favourite actors, he always shows amazing range and takes big risks in his roles....here he does show something, but with nothing to work with, a lot of the time he just annoyed the hell out of me and I think that was really all due to the character he was playing.

I was extremely disappointed with this film, I wasn't expecting a life changing film, but I was expecting something unique and different, something coherent and something compelling......this film has none of that.
CloudStrife84
CloudStrife84

Super Reviewer

July 10, 2007
Compelling and quite tense! Not too surprisingly, Christian Bale is brilliant in his role as a corrupt psychopath. His interesting character is what lifts this movie from a mediocre drama to something much more exciting. The movie reminded me a lot of "Training Day" and is about equally good. What it could have used though, is a better ending and resolution, but I suppose they wanted to make it more realistic. So if you liked Training Day, this is the movie for you.
Christopher M

Super Reviewer

June 8, 2007
I meant to see this long ago, because I love Christian Bale, but I finally got around to it. I'm not sure why this film was so overlooked at the time of its release, it really is a pretty good film. Christian Bale, proving once again he has the versatility to play any kind of role, plays Jim Davis, an ex-soldier trying to make it on the streets of L.A. with his best friend Mike, played by Freddy Rodriguez. It definitely wasn't a perfect film, Eva Longoria (playing Mike's ball-busting girlfriend) was kind of annoying and looked like a rank amateur next to Bale and Rodriquez (which she is), but fortunately she wasn't overused. The film had a few dry spots and probably could have been 10 or 15 minutes shorter. Overall though, I liked it. Bale slips into the role of a man mentally shaken up by the military system he was spit out of with ease, and Rodriguez does well and plays off the aggressive, disturbed Jim excellently - their chemistry was really, really good. David Ayer (who wrote and produced Training Day) handles his first directing gig pretty well, although it felt like he was channeling Antoine Fuqua's directing a little too closely. If you're a fan of Bale like I am, then you should check this out, as its another really good performance from one of the very best younger actors working today.
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