I watched ‘Harsh Times‘ last night. This Christian Bale film was (I think) his first after taking up the Batman role. I wouldnt give much for the storytelling and script, but boy when it comes to Christian Bale I totally dig the fact that this guy is the best in his business.
Bale plays the role of a Iraq war vet who suffers from panic attacks. When he gets back to LA he starts showcasing these symptoms in frighteningly violent outbursts that even shock his friends who are used to the ghetto culture of the city’s fringe. Bale makes every role he gets into very believable and somewhere you get the feeling that he has invested his all into the role. I believe that this guy is committed to his act, why else would he rant against someone who walks across his performance doing something as mechanical as Terminator Salvation.
Harsh Times is not a great movie. The highlights are the performance by Bale and the supporting characters. Freddy Rodriguez (of Six Feet Under fame) and a smoking hot Eva Longoria along with a lot more hot Latino ladies make this movie extremely watchable. But Christian Bale rips through every scene as he goes down the road to destruction with perfect discipline. This movie, I felt, was the best reflection of the post traumatic syndrome experienced by war vets. And Bale is extremely unpredictable in it.
Bale and Rodriguez’ characters move through bleak LA searching for their dream job – for Rodriguez it’s a corporate profile to satisfy his high achieving girlfriend (Longoria) while Bale wants to make it to the LAPD. The first half of the movie works as a demo tape on how not to proceed on a job search, especially when you are desperate. They visit old girlfriends, run into new boyfriends, narrowly avoid cops, steal from peddlers – all this while throwing their resumes out of the car while driving around LA.
Through some quirk of fate, both of them land up in their dream jobs (though Bale gets rejected by the LAPD and instead lands up in the higher Homeland Security position). All this while Bale proceeds through his interview in a cold calculating manner which perhaps impresses the bosses manning national security. A few hilarious sequences are present while Bale goes through his interviews by literally arm twisting his way into the position.
The movie works only because of Bale. Without Bale, the movie is pretty pedestrian and may have worked if Eva Longoria had been given more screen time in those tight, hot corporate outfits. The movie is directed by David Ayers who was also the screenwriter for ‘Training Day’. Going through Ayers’ filmography I realized that the guy worked around themes surrounding LA and mostly involved its law and order. I guess the biggest takeaway from this movie besides Bale’s performance was the recruitment process of Homeland Security. All recession affected employees from corporate America, watch out. All gun-wielding vengeful thoughts can be fruitfully utilized by Uncle Sam.