review by Neo

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Christian Bale is one of the most under appreciated actor in the Hollywood industry. It was not until Batman Begins that he is finally able to unleashes his undermining talent on a bigger scale. Like the cult-favourite Machinist, Bale stars in this low budget flick, directed by David Ayer who wrote a tight script of Training Days. Ayer is an adequate writer, but when it comes to directing he is not without flaws. Sure, the movie is by no means average and there are plenty of scenes to boost about. However, it is really relies too much on Bale’s acting that carries the film, rather than the film being outstanding. Ayer wrote a script that is only successful up to the point when Bale descends to madness; the effect is like an award winning performance in a B-movie. That’s not to say this movie is crap, but it is rather disappointing to see someone tries so hard to actually do some quality acting, only to be ruined by a script that doesn’t much an actor of his status.

It is a film that looks great and keep building up your expectations, hoping for a mind blowing finale, but instead Ayer seems to have taken the shortcut and unfortunately the direction is towards a B-movie. Bale gives in one of his usual performance that he has displayed capabilities of in movies like Machinist. Bale is mad, insane and utterly unpredictable, but within his twisted mind, he is able to display vulnerabilities within his characters. It is again disappointing that Ayer never fully explains Bale’s history and the effect is causing further confusion among the viewers.

All in all, Harsh Times is certainly a movie that could have been much better and the result is leaving the audience rather disappointed. Sure, Bale’s performance is outstanding and almost managed to cheat the audience into thinking this is an absolutely great movie. However, the fault ultimately lies in Ayer’s inexperience of directing and most likely unable to reach the potential that his script most probably intended. Once again, taking shortcuts certainly doesn’t make a movie, but then again, in terms of B-movie, you don’t often see a performance like Bale everyday…

I rate it 7/10.

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Starring: Christian Bale, Freddy Rodriguez, Eva Longoria
Directed by: David Ayer
Genre: Drama/Thriller
Reviewed by Andrew (Neo), April 2007

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