The MCU Is More Realistic Than Tom Holland in 'Cherry'

Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo

Starring Tom Holland, Ciara Bravo, Jack Reynor

BY Alex HudsonPublished Mar 17, 2021

As Peter Parker in the Spider-Man movies, Tom Holland brings the perfect level of bushy-tailed naïveté. As a dirtbag teen turned army medic turned drug-addicted bank robber? Not so much. It's as if the actor chose the titular role in Cherry specifically to play against type, because he's not remotely believable in this clumsy, over-stylized crime drama from directors Anthony and Joe Russo (the brothers behind four MCU films, including both Infinity War and Endgame).

After a flash forward to the protagonist's life of crime, Cherry begins with our star as an Ohio college student who falls in love with a classmate, Emily (Ciara Bravo). From the get-go, Cherry suffers from clunky stylistic affectations that distract rather than enhance; he talks directly to the camera (a narrative style that is used only periodically and is totally out of place), an experience using drugs is brought to life in cheesy black-and-white, and poor sweet Tom Holland is forced to say "I'd really like to fuck this girl" over romantic ambient music.

As a war movie, Cherry is compellingly grim. Drill sergeants mistreat soldiers, soldiers mistreat civilians, and the government doesn't provide adequate support to veterans once the whole ordeal is over. With bug-budget explosions and moments of human drama (and even some comedy), the War in Iraq takes up a fairly small portion of this two-hour-20-minute film, but it comes close to redeeming the rest of it.

But the Russos can't keep out of own way. Whether it's flashing phrases like "DICK HOLSTER" on the screen during army training sequences or robbing a bank literally called ShittyBank, there's just too much snazzy over-direction and smug, winking humour to match the gritty subject matter. Clumsily capping off a scene of using opioids with "and that is how we became addicts" will surely be the moment many viewers (wisely) turn Cherry off with a groan. An understated final chapter comes as sweet relief.

Cherry is loosely based on a true story, as it's an adaptation of the novel of the same name by an army vet. But it's so sensational and miscast that any substance becomes overwhelmed by style. The MCU feels more plausible than this.

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