Mixed or average reviews - based on 24 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 29 Ratings

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  • Starring: ,
  • Summary: From the writer of "Training Day," Harsh Times is a gritty look at friendship, loyalty and ambition on the extremely rough streets of south central Los Angeles. (MGM)
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 24
  2. Negative: 2 out of 24
  1. 88
    If Martin Scorsese were 30 and a Los Angeleno, he'd be making movies much like this one.
  2. 75
    Harsh Times occasionally echoes "Taxi Driver," Ayer's own "Training Day," and even "First Blood" in the way it examines the psychological disintegration of a character and the seduction of amorality.
  3. Bale brings intense energy (and a convincing American accent) to the proceedings, and the film manages to make this borderline Travis Bickle into a sympathetic character - with a sweetheart, and a sweeter life, beckoning from south of the border. Strong stuff.
  4. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    A psychotic seizure of a performance by Christian Bale dominates Harsh Times, the directorial debut of David Ayer that channels "Taxi Driver."
  5. The film's unrelenting bleakness and misanthropic tone is likely to be a turnoff to mainstream performances, but it provides its lead actor with another opportunity to display his riveting intensity.
  6. Reviewed by: Michael Ordona
    Harsh Times goes down like the vinegar its protagonist chugs to try to beat a drug test. It's carefully crafted, exasperating and ugly, a festival of self-destructiveness, in all ways a reflection of its lead as brought to careening, erupting, implosive life by Christian Bale.
  7. Harsh Times contains exactly 30 seconds of novelty.

See all 24 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 13
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 13
  3. Negative: 3 out of 13
  1. SimonMarts
    Sep 3, 2007
    Amazing. A modern day "Taxi Driver". It isn't about blood and guts, this movie follows one messed up dude who's kill switch is stuck in the on position and is going swirly on the downward spiral. You'll love this movie or hate it. I've recommended it to everyone and these are the only two reactions I've gotten. Expand
  2. Kyle
    Feb 28, 2009
    Better than Training Day... Narc was a little better but Bale owned this film.
  3. May 10, 2011
    Harsh Times is a film that shows the dark side of post-traumatic stress disorder, which is probably why it's judged so harshly. Many people have been affected by ptsd either directly or indirectly so it's understandable if someone doesn't want to see this movie or praise it. But if you can handle the touchy storyline, then it's definitely worth seeing. Christian Bale and Freddy Rodriguez give standout performances as the lead characters Jim and Mike. Jim is trying to become a cop and Mike needs a job to make his woman happy, but they get sidetracked constantly, which results in trouble. There is a lot of good dialogue and even some funny moments. Expand
  4. DanielA.
    Jan 6, 2007
    A superbly made film. Gripping, unquestionably acted and with sharp, realistic dialogue. It certainly deserves a far higher rating than the averages displayed here. Expand
  5. Andy
    Apr 5, 2007
    Superb acting, especially from Rodriguez, in what turns out to be a great potrayal of a play torn out of the pages of a Greek tragedy.
  6. Aug 28, 2014
    This movie just barely deserves all the three stars in my book. But that's my honest opinion: I'm sure someone else enjoys this movie more than I did.

    Altogether, this was a disturbing experience. While Bale's performance was strong, no doubt, it was also... totally out of it. The war has **** his character Jim up in the worst of ways, and while he fights to find his footing in the real world, he gets totally lost. Wrong people offering him a job, and he takes it, although it wasn't even what he wanted.

    His friend Mike (Rodriguez) is trying to find a job, but getting drunk/high instead of handing out applications is so much more fun. He gets busted, of course, which almost ruins his relationship with his girlfriend. Still, he remains the conscience of this movie to the end.

    All in all, the acting is pretty great. I just didn't like the way this whole movie seemed to be high on something. The plot was vague, and I just didn't find that something in this movie that I usually like in a film.
  7. EC
    Nov 9, 2006
    This movie is not only bad, it's (dare I say it) Gigli bad. The premise of the film seems decent with a Gulf War veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome trying to make it again in the real world. However, the movie gets really busy really fast with Jim's (the soldier) friend Mike also trying to find a job. Mike happens to be the lucky husband of Sophie (played by Eva Longoria) who is a lawyer. How a dead-beat drug user ended up with her is still unknown to me as it is never really developed. That also seems to be the case with the rest of the film. They never really develop what Jim went through. They never followed through with the job Jim gets in the film, they never expand on Jim's mysterious relationship with a Mexican woman who he wants to marry and bring into America. They never expand on any of the characters relationships with each other. The film overall tries to have too many plots (romance, struggle in the real world, effects of war) and just simply tried to hard to accommodate them all and failed miserably. On top of that, the dialog is stereotypical of "gangsta" speach and unremarkable at best. The cinematography is absolutely disgusting (the worst part being a slow-motion shooting scene where Jim gets shot). The soundtrack is cheesy and cliched, the direction seems like it was done in the same state the characters are almost the entire movie: drunk and high on marijuana. Which is another point, why are the main characters always driving around drunk and high on marijuana? Another mystery to me is whether I should feel sympathy toward Jim because of what he went through or not. I found it really hard to have sympathy when he's drunk and high and talking smack and sticking guns at people including his girlfriend. In the end, I was left wondering what this movie was really about. I can't figure out for the life of me what the message this movie was trying to send was. Whatever the message was, it was extremely weak and not very well supported by the cast. There wasn't nearly enough scenes with Eva Longoria to keep me interested either. Currently, I am considering the legal possibility of suing all those responsible for the 2 hours of my life they wasted. I would say, avoid this movie. No coherency, no intelligence, "nada" (en espanol). Expand

See all 13 User Reviews