Harsh Times is a movie about a guy named Jim, played by Christian Bale. He is an ex-Army Ranger suffering from panic attacks. He wants a job with the LAPD, but that falls through. He then gets a chance to work for the Feds, in Columbia. Until the job begins, he turns to petty(ish) crime with an old friend. Things like going to Mexico to see his girlfriend with the friend, and then bringing back weed. Then, *spoiler, spoiler spoiler*.
Christian Bale is, to me (I’ve read positive reviews), ridiculous. He gets shit over his Batman voice, but I’ve always been okay with it. Doing his gravel thing, he’s HIDING his real voice, which is actually pretty smart compared to Spiderman running around and talking to his girlfriend without changing his at all. Also, he’s Batman. Jim is just a guy. And the voice CB uses for Jim is ridiculous. So affected, and the way he puffs up his mouth to spout his big-dog-bad-ass bullshit took me completely out of the plot and tension of the film.
It’s possible that the posing was completely purposeful for the character, because it slipped a bit when Jim was with Marta, the girlfriend. Even if that was true, though, I don’t feel it would fit the character. A man who was in the Army, fairly successful on the streets, and certifiably insane, wouldn’t need to pose like he was a 14 year old wannabe-punk.
Jim is a crazy jackass, but that’s the point. My problem was that it felt like CB was trying to channel Patrick Bateman (from American Psycho), but less yuppie. It didn’t work.
The other two big-names, Eva Longoria and Freddy Rodriguez, did much better jobs. Eva, as Sylvia, didn’t have much to do as the far more straight-laced girlfriend of Freddy (as Jim’s best friend, Mike). But even though it was a little part, it was well done. Freddy, however, had a much larger part in the film, and did an acceptable job as a guy who is caught between the controlling wills of his girlfriend and his best friend.
His posturing as a bad ass to try and live up to what his best friend wants him to be, is more genuine.
With the notable, and I’m sure purposeful, exception of some daylight time in Mexico, the movie is dingy. Lots of brown and yellow.
When Jim had his panic attacks, the yellow spread. They tilted the camera angle, used lots of jump cuts, and distorted the sound. I watched this movie on my home TV, during the day, while eating, so it didn’t bother me that much as far as my epilepsy goes, but there was a feeling in my skin that made me think it could.
It was also typical. Uninteresting. I understood what they were doing, why they were doing it, and why they chose to do it in that way, but it was boring.
I didn’t hate it. I watched it, sat through it. If it came on again, I might not turn the channel. Unless Law & Order or Born to Kill was on, then I can’t make promises. Law & Order is almost always on.