From the writer of Training Day, comes writer/director David Ayer’s Harsh Times. No studio would touch his latest script, leaving Ayer to direct and fund the film himself. After sitting through two hours of almost nothingness I can see why.
Jim Davis, played by Christian Bale, is a former Army Ranger trying to get a job in law enforcement so he can marry his Mexican girlfriend and bring her over to the US. Hooking up with his old friend Mike, played by Freddy Rodriguez, who is also unemployed, the two drive around LA drinking beer, fighting and getting into trouble when Mike should be handing out his resume as he promised to his girlfriend Sylvia, played by Eva Longoria. They drive around getting stoned, drinking, trying to sell a stolen gun and drinking some more. Throughout, the two men bang on about how much they love the girlfriends they are ignoring and betraying.
Almost immediately you start wondering when the plot is going to kick in and by the time it ends you’ve given up on any chance of it ever happening. Jim and Mike drift from one scene to the next, calling each other dudes and dawgs so many times you’d think a rap video is going to appear. The actors try to help the script as much as they can, but they’re limited by no plot and some really cheesy lines. I must admit though that Bale put in yet another perfect performance as the unpredictable and aggressive Davis. It’s just a shame that he acting talents were wasted. Lastly, first-time director Ayer does a good job with the film’s look, with a few moments of creative editing.
Ultimately though, Harsh Times wants to be a modern morality play but comes across like a drama-school improvisation. Unfortunately the lack of a plot didn’t help the film either.