Jim is the type of guy that anyone may know. He served his time as a soldier and now it's his dream to become a cop in Los Angeles. The problem is not only does he spend most days drinking, smoking pot, and looking for ways to either get laid or kick the snot out of someone, but his time as a soldier gets to him more than he lets on. He has nightmares every night and usually wakes up screaming, has cold chills, and is just one step away from the brink of insanity. His best friend, Mike, just wants to get a job so he can make his wife happy, but his drinking problem gets him into more trouble than it should. Jim and Mike hang out all the time, so when one gets in trouble the other one has his back. While Mike has his wife, Sylvia, Jim has a girlfriend, Marta, back in Mexico who he hopes to get across the border once he gets that dream job. So when Jim gets a call from Homeland Security and Mike has an interview go really well at one of the best businesses in town, they think their lives are beginning to look up. But what'll happen when Jim finally gets pushed too far? Who will he take it out on and how many people will be caught in the crossfire?
This movie kind of plays out like some of my favorite songs. Things start off slow, but are slowly building towards a big finale. Once things start rolling, it's inevitable to try and resist the mayhem that's sure to ensue. That's a perfect way to describe Harsh Times. The film is generally about a subject I usually have no interest in, but the characters involved, the way events unfold, and the way Christian Bale portrays Jim Luther Davis kept me watching. Watching Jim and Mike basically flush their lives down the toilet by being the screw ups they are was enough to keep my attention, but the film's true gem, other than Christian Bale's performance(which I'll get to momentarily), is the last twenty minutes or so of the film.
Other than the ending, the film has one really surprising scene that caught me off guard. It's just so spontaneous and no one will see it coming. It's an interesting scene, as well. It puts what Jim went through as a soldier into perspective as what happens in said scene doesn't phase him at all, but Mike is practically traumatized in the process. It seems kind of unimportant at the time, but is one of the first scenes that comes to mind after the credits begin to roll.
Christian Bale never ceases to amaze me in the films he's a part of and he's done so yet again. It's interesting that he's had so many different accents amongst all the roles he's had and he's added another one to his repertoire. I guess the weirdest thing for me was watching him as Batman in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight and then watching this after that. Now I'm going to expect to hear Batman say something like, "Yeah, homie. That's how we roll in these streets, dawg," the next time I see either one of those films. It's just a transition I didn't expect him to make and so flawlessly. Bale's characterization is also shown in top form in this film, as well. The transformation he makes from beginning to end is incredible. The way the film is edited when Jim is going through one of his episodes is also a nice touch. You know that once the screen has that yellow tint to it that something big is about to go down.
Harsh Times is a crime, drama, thriller that is definitely worth the watch. While the film may not appeal to everyone, it probably has more to offer than anyone gives it credit for. Christian Bale doesn't disappoint as his characterization is as strong as ever this time around. If you're a Christian Bale fan, then there's no reason why you wouldn't enjoy this film. If not, then I still highly recommend it for the finale of the film alone. If you like films ending on an intense note, then you're sure not to go away empty handed. This seems like a film that tends to be overlooked by people that should definitely be giving it more praise than I've ever heard anyone give it. See this film.