Review: Harsh Times (2005)  

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The poster makes this movie look like a gang movie, but although there are a few scenes of gang violence, this movie is really about a mentally tormented man either on the verge of pulling his life together or becoming a psychopath and tearing apart the lives of everyone he knows.

Jim is an ex-Ranger, trying to find a good enough job in Los Angeles so that he can bring his Mexican girlfriend to America. Mike is his best friend, seemingly settled down with his own girlfriend/wife, until Jim comes around to pull him back into a life of petty crime.

My main problem with the movie is that none of the characters were likable. It was hard to feel sorry for someone who was messing up his life so completely when he was aware that what he was doing would screw him up. Mike was a little more sympathetic, but he was such a follower that it was difficult to feel bad for him either.

The movie managed to hold a tense pace throughout, leaving the viewer expecting the tumble from the precipice at any moment. And I think it actually redeemed itself in the end, but it was a painful process. I enjoyed director David Ayer's Training Day much more, maybe because Ethan Hawke's character was so earnest. In Harsh Times the hero was missing which might feel more authentic, but it's also much less entertaining.

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