Tuesday, August 22, 2006

HARSH TIMES - conventional LA crime drama

HARSH TIMES is a pretty disappointing movie. I had high expectations because it is written and directed by David Ayer, who also penned the spectacular TRAINING DAY. TRAINING DAY captured life in the rougher parts of LA with a seeming authenticiy that is rare and gave Denzel Washington a chance to play against type and shine. My expectations were also boosted by the fact that HARSH TIMES stars Christian Bale - an actor who seems to have a talent for picking interesting roles in challenging films.

But, to my surprise, HARSH TIMES turns out to be an incredibly conventional movie. Christian Bale plays to type as a psychotic Gulf War veteran trying to land a job with the LAPD. Burned for being too whacko even for the LAPD, Bale ends up being picked up by the Department of Homeland Security. Apparently, they will be accepting of his, 'I'm a soldier of the apocalypse, man!' attitude and some of the most darkly funny material in the film comes from this segment of the movie. I particularly liked the scene where Bale injects drug masking agents into his member with a turkey baster.

Naturally, the pyschotic veteran gets a more grounded but pussy-whipped best friend, played by
Freddie Rodriguez. As in all buddy movies of this type, the Rodriguez character wants to sort out his life and get a job, but is driven from the path of righteousness by his best friend's whining. It was like watching ROUNDERS all over again. Lucky Freddie gets Desperate Housewife, Eva Longoria, as his squeeze. She does well with a very stereo-typed character - she seems to exist solely to hurl clever one-line insults at the Bale character. Stuff like, "You're crazy and you're dangerous and my biggest nightmare is you with a badge!" How many times have we heard that before in cheap cop dramas.

While HARSH TIMES contains some mildly amusing stoner humour and some senseless violence, the plot is thin and the character development non-existent. Christian Bale is, as ever, superb at bringing this mentally damaged individual to life, but he is essentially a static character for the two hours of the movie. Anyone with a half a braincell will see the HARSH ending coming a mile off.

HARSH TIMES played Toronto 2005 and is now on release in the UK. It opens in Turkey on September 22nd 2006, the US on November 10th 2006 and France on December 6th 2006.


  1. Great blog ...my first time here.

    Do you happen to know the German release date for World Trade Center?

    Thanks ...

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. No problem. WORLD TRADE CENTER is out in Germany on September 28th.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. My dear fantasy film reviewing Bina... are we ever going to get to take in a film together?
    F*ck that poetry sh8t - have you seen A Scanner Darkly yet? Wanna catch it tomorrow eve in central London somewhere?

    Also do you have a YMDB page yet? Show the world your top 20 films (very tough to narrow it down)- check mine here:


    BTW - reason I originally was gonna post this comment is that I think you called this one wrong...
    "I see dumb people" etc = genius

  6. Hi Matt - I saw scanner darkly already but if you drop me an email mexalexandros@hotmail.com perhaps we can arrange to see sth. else? Bina