THE STORY: From the creator of TRAINING DAY comes HARSH TIMES, a gritty look at friendship, loyalty and ambition set on the extremely rough streets of south central Los Angeles.
Jim Davis (Christian Bale) is an ex-Army Ranger recently discharged from the military, yet still haunted by nightmares of his former occupation. While seeking a position with the LAPD that will allow him to marry his Mexican girlfriend and bring her to the United States, Jim kills time chilling with his best friend, Mike (Freddy Rodriguez).
Mike is feeling the heat from his longtime girlfriend, Sylvia (Eva Longoria): either get a job or get out. But the love of a beautiful woman can’t compare to the bonds of friendship, and Jim and Mike are soon cruising the streets of South Central, slipping back into a deceitful life of drugs, violence and petty crime, just like when they were kids. Christian Bale (“Batman Begins”), Freddy Rodriguez (“Six Feet Under”) and Eva Longoria (“Desperate Housewives”) star in HARSH TIMES, written and directed by David Ayer (“Training Day,” “The Fast and the Furious”).
THE REVIEW: Christian Bale hasn’t led us astray much in his career. He usually picks very good movies that are strong in plot and deep in character. Unfortunately Harsh Times struggles with both. The plot is thin and as hard as he might try, Bale can only make so much out of nothing. Bale has been brilliant in making his characters come alive—he’s got a knack for making us believe he is who he pretends to be. Bale is a brilliant actor in a movie that wastes his talent.
The plot is the ultimate death of Harsh Times. It’s hard to stay with the movie. It’s the Jim and Mike show and it’s only interesting for so long. It’s ridiculous to stay with them as they get themselves into every possible manner of trouble. Why Mike stays with the lunatic Jim is another burning question. Any person in their right mind, and maybe that is what we are overlooking, would have left this one way trip to hell long ago. Mike doesn’t always just go along for the ride. He has his moments when he is in utter surprise and shock at Jim’s actions—and yet doesn’t leave.
FRANKLY: Christian Bale and Freddy Rodriquez are the only reason to watch. Harsh Times is harsh and sometimes completely illogical. It’s gritty and tough and Bale is compelling—but those aren’t reason enough to drop a full admission to see the scarcity of plot and desire.
+ Charlie Craine