Sunday, July 08, 2007

Harsh Times: Grade B


Harsh Times (2005)

Christian Bale, Freddy Rodriquez, Eva Longoria. Writer-Director David Ayer.

Excellent acting makes this dark tragedy lift its head above banality. A couple of loser guys in their 30’s on the mean streets of contemporary LA, drink, smoke, do drugs, play with guns and generally act like stereotypical lowlifes while half-heartedly searching for jobs. By luck and circumstance, they do manage to get jobs, and take a disastrous trip to Mexico to celebrate. They return, have a shoot out, and the movie ends, so there is no real plot, just a series of incidents. A confusing story error has Bale sell his gun but continue to own it in later scenes. Character development is virtually non-existent because Bale’s character is a certifiable psychopath with overt symptoms of some kind of brain disorder that disposes him to unpredictable violence. The other characters gradually come to realize something is wrong with him. This is one of my pet peeves, writing a psychopathic character into a script, because anything can happen for any reason without the character being realistically motivated. It’s lazy writing. Despite all these problems, the fine acting by the three principals keeps your attention on the screen.

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