Comically poor Harsh Times is waste of time

by Beacon Staff • November 8, 2006

Unfortunately, he swigs Jose Cuervo and smokes a lot of dope the day before his urine exam. At the last minute, Jim decides to solve the problem by taking a turkey baster full of vinegar and injecting it into his penis.,Jim Davis (Christian Bale), the central character of Harsh Times, wants to become an agent for the Department of Homeland Security.

Unfortunately, he swigs Jose Cuervo and smokes a lot of dope the day before his urine exam. At the last minute, Jim decides to solve the problem by taking a turkey baster full of vinegar and injecting it into his penis.

This original philosophy is what most of Harsh Times revolves around. It's supposedly a crime thriller set in Los Angeles, but after watching the audience chuckle uncontrollably through the majority of the film, it would appear that Harsh Times falls more under the genre of comedy.

Bale disagrees.

"It's a very multilayered movie that appears to play on a very simplistic level," said the star when interviewed by The Beacon. "You'll see that my character is a very interesting and engaging character. It's a joyride."

Joyride? It's unclear whether one would describe the film as a joy. It's hard to take your eyes off of it, for sure; it's like witnessing a 10-car pile-up on the freeway.

Director David Ayer, the writer of Training Day, was similarly passionate about the film as a whole.

"Growing up in South Central, I came of age in the streets," he said in an interview with The Beacon. "There was always built-in drama and inherent menace. That's how this film feels."

Again, a slight addendum should be made to that last comment. Harsh Times has plenty of unintentional humor, but there is no menace or drama to be found. In truth, the film feels a lot like Training Day after a lobotomy.

Harsh Times negatively transcends being a bad film in that it makes no logical or cohesive sense at all.

The "story," set mostly in L.A., follows two guys (Freddy Rodriguez and Bale) driving around town, getting drunk, and whining about wanting women.

The two lines most frequently used in the film's first half hour are, "Shit, I want to get fucked up" and "I want to get laid, man!," the latter statement being repeated twice in the span of 20 seconds.

It should be noted how ludicrous the British-born Bale sounds with his bizarre hybrid of a Los Angeles accent. Who even knew that existed? The result makes him sound as if he were trying to imitate a sterotypical Chicano hyped up on morphine.

Also, "bro" and "dude" are used in virtually every sentence, making the men's already senseless dialogue almost impossible to swallow without feeling queasy. By the end of the first hour, one has to wonder who these absurd characters are and why a film as thoughtless and wasteful as this is being made in the first place.

"Making this movie, it was kind of like raising my own babies," Ayer said. "I didn't want to hand it over to the adoptive parents which were the studios."

At least the studios might have turned Harsh Times into something tastefully terrible, like a Jerry Bruckheimer production. Without a budget, Harsh Times is just an ugly duckling with no chance of ever becoming a short-lived opening weekend hit.

When asked who would be drawn to see this movie, Bale said enthusiastically, "I would be drawn to see this movie! I find that we did it very well. Dave, in particular, did a fantastic job."

It's good to see that someone likes this movie, even if it happens to be the lead actor and executive producer of the film.

Too bad he's going to be alone in his sentiment.