Harsh Times (2005) starring Christian Bale, Freddy Rodríguez, Eva Longoria, Chaka Forman, Tammy Trull, J.K. Simmons directed by David Ayer Movie Review

Harsh Times (2005)   2/52/52/52/52/5

Christian Bale in Harsh Times (2005)

A Harsh Watch

Having served overseas, ex-army ranger Jim Davis (Christian Bale) returns to LA with two goals; firstly to become part of the LAPD and with a secure job arrange for his girlfriend from Mexico to cross the border legally so they can be together. But when his application is turned down he becomes frustrated and with his friend Mike (Freddy Rodríguez) drive around the streets, drinking, getting stoned, holding up street punks and generally wasting their lives. It annoys Mike's wife Sylvia (Eva Longoria) who wants him to find a job and thinks that Jim is a bad influence especially as he has anger issues.

Did they make two movies called "Harsh Times" because I must have watched the one they put together from all the bits which ended up on the cutting room floor. That may sound harsh but almost everything which others seemed to praise I found depressing, boring and unconvincing. That starts with Christian Bale, a talented and dedicated actor who unfortunately when he tries to act street he comes over like every other white guy who thinks he is street. Maybe that was the intention but it ends up wrong on so many levels and only comes good when his character is dealing with his war flashbacks. And sadly as his little buddy Freddy Rodriguez is like an annoying kid brother who thinks he is a player.

But then there is the story which is basically an hour of being beaten in to submission as we watch Jim and Mike drive around doing jack all other than acting like they are gangsta. It means that when things sort of become interesting as Jim gets a shot at a Homeland Security position it is a real chore to engage with what goes on. Throw in a narrative which just seems to roam and make me think it was filling time during the first hour.

What this all boils down to is that "Harsh Times" was not the movie I read it was and in fact that it hard work from start to fish with performances which didn't work for me at all.