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Harsh Times


Stars: Christian Bale, Freddy Rodriguez, Eva Longoria, Tammy Trull, Adriana Millan, J K Simmons

Director: David Ayer

An unhappy ending is pretty well guaranteed from the opening reel of this intense, grim drama that brims with violence - and was extremely fortunate to escape with a 15 certificate from the BBFC.

Mad-dog ex-soldier Jim (Bale), failing to gain employment with the LAPD, lands up in the Department of Homeland Security, which posts him as a troubleshooter in Colombia.

His Latino buddy Mike (Rodriguez), with whom Jim cruises the city, selling guns and drugs and half-looking for trouble, also finds a steady job, which may help patch up his relationship with his lawyer lover (Longoria).

With another pal, they decide on a final 'jobless' fling to Mexico. It's a trip you can guess will be fateful - and probably fatal.

Committed performances from Bale and Rodriguez can't disguise the fact that it's difficult to see an audience for such a downer of a film - and one that loses its grip, too, in a protracted last half-hour.

David Quinlan

USA 2005. UK Distributor: Pathé. Colour by De Luxe.
119 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 2, Swearing 3.

Review date: 15 Aug 2006