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   Movie Reviews: Harsh Times
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Studio:
     MGM
Plot:
     A former Army Ranger returns to his south central neighborhood after fighting in the Gulf War.
Cast:
     Christian Bale, Freddy Rodríguez, Eva Longoria, Terry Crews
Rating:
     R
Bottom Line:
     *1/2

Coverage:
by
Samantha Ofole-Prince

True to its grim title, "Harsh Times" is a gritty look at ambition, friendship and loyalty and it chronicles the times shared between two childhood buddies on the streets of south central Los Angeles. Written, produced and directed by David Ayer who mortgaged his home to finance the project and who also penned the script for movie "Training Day," it follows the same formulaic treatment but instead trades most of the Black actors for Latino ones.

Christian Bale plays Jim Davis, the honorary white guy/ex-army ranger raised in south central LA who is back from the Gulf War, but is still haunted by the nightmares of his former occupation. Ambitious and embittered, he spends his days hanging out with buddies in his neighborhood whilst waiting to land a dream job with the LAPD or DEA so he can marry his Mexican girlfriend, Marta, and bring her across the border. Actor Freddy Rodriguez is his childhood buddy and partner in crime, Mike, who endlessly rides with him through the city childishly playing pointless pranks, drinking and smoking pot. "Desperate Housewives" star Eva Longoria plays Sylvia, Mike’s girlfriend who it seems is merely tossed in as eye candy for the lads, whilst Terry Crews is wasted in one scene as Darrel, an ex con who just got out of county jail.

It’s "Training Day" all over again, but with a thread thin plot. Ironically, Christian Bale read for Ethan Hawke’s part in "Training Day" so gets his recompense in this flick. Pointless, dull and riddled with corny characters and an uneven plot "Harsh Times" tries particularly too hard to be another urban action drama with its look at the culture of violence in the hood and plods along endlessly from one scene to another. It’s also the case of a-little-build-up-too-late, for by the time the fairly decent anti climax is reached, viewer interest is already lost. Fast forward on this one for you won’t miss much.

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