Saturday, 28 April 2007
Harsh Times DVD
The directorial debut of Training Day screenwriter David Ayer, this searing, rage-fuelled, incendiary powderkeg features yet another sensational transformative performance from Christian Bale. Plagued by nightmares of his time in the Gulf, clearly disturbed ex-US Ranger Jim (Bale) spends his days either south of the border with his Mexican fiancée, for whom he promises to procure an American visa, or riding around South Central LA with his childhood friend Mike (Freddy Rodriguez) getting wasted, busting heads, and ripping off the local dealer’s stash. Jim talks of a career in law enforcement, but a suspect military record rules him out of a position with the LAPD. Mike, meanwhile, just wants to find a job to please his yuppie wife (Eva Longoria) but finds it increasingly difficult to resist his buddy’s corrupting influence — with the inevitable, sticky consequences. When Jim’s eventually offered a post with Homeland Security, policing drug cartels in Columbia, he must choose between being a Fed and being with his mamisita. Bale chalks up yet another American psycho after Patrick Bateman and Batman, bringing palpable depth, even occasional tenderness to this mentally unstable, angry young vet (Travis Bickle anyone?) whose violent tendencies are liable to erupt at the slightest provocation. Ayer, who reportedly remortgaged his home to the finance the film after being turned down by every studio, grew up on these mean streets and it shows in his disquieting script — written before Training Day and sharing similarities in tone, narrative and setting — and uncomfortably visceral direction. He goes for the jugular at all times — once, quite literally — the grainy, handheld camerawork adding to the already scuzzy authenticity. Not much in the way of extras but this DVD is a worthy purchase nevertheless. Out April 30.