March 29th, 2008

HARSH TIMES (2006) ***

Writer/director David Ayer knows a thing or two about the dirty cop genre from writing both Training Day and Dark Blue.  This, his directorial debut is more of the same, the notable difference being that this dirty cop (Christian Bale) is a former soldier turned federal agent who is awaiting to be shipped out to Columbia.  Like in Training Day, he rides around the streets of the hood drinking booze and smoking weed while partaking in various illegal money making schemes. 


Honestly, this is almost virtually the same movie as Training Day.  I have to give this flick the edge over that film though because Christian Bale’s performance is absolutely riveting.  He’s a veritable ticking time bomb and he imbues his character with a genuine sense of menace.  You’re never quite sure just what this crazy son of a bitch is going to do next, which really keeps you on your toes and keeps you watching.  It’s a much better performance than Denzel Washington’s showy, over-praised, Oscar winning turn in Training Day that’s for sure. 


While the flick loses it’s momentum at about the ¾ mark (Ayer’s storytelling becomes less coherent the crazier Bale gets), it’s still worth a look just to see the top notch performance by Bale.  Freddy (Planet Terror) Rodriguez is equally great as Bale’s buddy who is more or less along for the ride (just like the audience), but it’s Bale that gets all of the best lines like “I need to feel some reefer madness!”, “Grab a rock!”, and “You can twelve step off, bitch!”