Metascore
56

Mixed or average reviews - based on 24 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 24
  2. Negative: 2 out of 24
  1. Reviewed by: Josh Rosenblatt
    67
    Rodríguez is excellent as Mike.
  2. 58
    For most of its meandering running time Harsh Times is just a rough South Central L.A. buddy movie.
  3. 38
    The real problem with Harsh Times is Jim himself. Bale goes at the part with his usual intensity, but the character still seems like a psycho without psychology or a soul.
  4. Harsh Times contains exactly 30 seconds of novelty.
  5. 70
    Debuting as director, Ayer once again points his loose cannon directly into the body politic: the protagonist of this sour but haunting tale is a crazed army ranger just returned from overseas (Christian Bale) who's so full of war that even the LAPD won't hire him.
  6. Harsh Times, is almost a good, salty urban thriller.
  7. Bale is mesmerizing and Rodriguez keeps up with him as the whole unsafe contraption zooms.
  8. 50
    Give Harsh Times an "E" for effort, but not much else.
  9. Reviewed by: Michael Ordona
    50
    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.
  10. 75
    Not since "To Live and Die in L.A" has there been such a raw, cynical vision of living and dying in L.A.
  11. The result is an angry, violent mess of a movie with a central character threatening to implode right on the screen.
  12. 88
    If Martin Scorsese were 30 and a Los Angeleno, he'd be making movies much like this one.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. All along, you know something terrible is going to happen, and when it does, you leave the theater shaken and deeply moved.
  16. Well-intentioned but not very well directed, it makes for a better psychological profile than a film.
  17. 67
    Ayer gets lost in a maze of ironies, and has to bulldoze his way to an exit. For a while, Harsh Times is thrillingly hard to predict. By the end, it becomes all too easy.
  18. Harsh Times opens with a deadly nightmare and ends with a vast bloodbath -- in between, things get a little gruesome.
  19. 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.
  20. Mr. Bales's spectacular technical performance of a toxic bad boy on the fast track to hell somehow lacks an inner core.
  21. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    75
    With his ersatz-gangsta swagger, the once-again buff Bale gives it his all -- he's got to be the most committed actor in Hollywood -- but the real surprise here is Rodriguez, who has all the talent and charisma of a major star.
  22. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    60
    A psychotic seizure of a performance by Christian Bale dominates Harsh Times, the directorial debut of David Ayer that channels "Taxi Driver."
  23. Reviewed by: Jim Ridley
    40
    Whatever political statement Ayer intended to make with his Gulf War veteran turned human time bomb is swamped by the movie's obnoxious badass envy, and Bale's gloating display of American-psycho fireworks, the kind of vein-popping show-boating that might as well be performed in a mirror.
  24. The film amounts to a harsh and perpetual assault on viewers' sensibilities -- not only because of its violence but because of its overall bleakness.
User Score
7.4

Generally favorable reviews- based on 44 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 14
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 14
  3. Negative: 3 out of 14
  1. Jan 25, 2015
    10
    Christian Bale arrasa na atuação como Jim Davis um ex-soldado sem emprego e mergulhado na merda. Um típico Scarface mostrando alguém que caíChristian Bale arrasa na atuação como Jim Davis um ex-soldado sem emprego e mergulhado na merda. Um típico Scarface mostrando alguém que caí na desgraça completa.
    Freddy Rodriguez também está ótimo como Mike Alonzo o grande amigo de Jim. Terry Crews é fenomenal numa performance de única curta cena. Eva Longoria está excelente também. E Tammy Trull também excelente como a gostosa mexicana Marta. Ótimo filme.
    Full Review »
  2. Aug 28, 2014
    6
    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 moreThis 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.
    Full Review »
  3. May 10, 2011
    10
    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 peopleHarsh 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. Full Review »