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Harsh Times

David Ayer

Harsh Times
Times, hell, most of the harshness in this overheated epic comes from the supremely messed-up protagonist as he deals excessive punishment to characters and audience alike. Christian Bale plays the psycho in question, an Iraq veteran who doubles as an alpha-male brute who hopes to get a job in law enforcement despite his propensity for getting high and selling stolen guns. He spends most of his time getting buddy Freddy Rodriguez into trouble when the latter ought to be looking for a job — his idea of helping is phoning in phoney interview offers to Freddy’s wife (Eva Longoria) — and is generally prone to violence and antisocial conduct. This means only one thing: the Feds want him to work in Columbia. Seriously. Buried in this movie is an indictment about one man’s pathetic attraction to macho entitlement but it’s hard to tell what writer/director David Ayer wants to tell us — aside from giving us the tired stereotype of the bat-shit crazy veteran it’s up in the air as to how we’re supposed to take the hero and his gangsta affectations. On the one hand, he’s clearly a menace to society; on the other hand, we’re trapped in his point of view. But the film self-destructs long before you have to make that particular choice, as Ayer (writer of the equally ludicrous Training Day) goes completely over the top and beyond the bounds of credulity while Bale spirals ever more out of control. For his part, the actor knocks it out of the park with his best performance in an American role, but it’s all for nought as the film is all about nastiness and has nothing to do with perspective, analysis or simple observance of human behaviour. Extras include a vivid commentary by director David Ayer and seven deleted scenes. (Alliance Atlantis)
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