Iï¿½ve been anticipating the release of Harsh Times for quite a while now, never being able to catch it in the theatre, I finally got the chance to check it out. Christian Bale is by now known for his versatility and wide range of playable characters; Harsh Times offers another committed and deep portrayal to his resume. Bale plays ex-ranger Jim Davis who is back in Los Angeles after a 6-year tour. He is trying to land a job with the LAPD so he can marry his Mexican sweetheart and have her live in America. Only things donï¿½t go as planned and the LAPD turn him down sending Jim into an uncontrollable rage and has him craving all things illegal. Riding shotgun for the whole adventure is his best friend Mike Alonzo (Freddy Rodriguez), a nearly completely reformed ex-con. Dealing with problems of his own, particularly his girlfriend Sylvia (Eva Longoria), Mike sets out daily to find work but instead finds himself running the streets with Jim. Before things get worse there is hope yet as The Department of Homeland Security calls up Jim where he hopes to land a job. Soon the two aspects of his life have to find balance as things start spinning out of control for the two best friends, will it end with everyone back on the right track, or in blood?
Simply put Harsh Times is a great movie, some great performances and a story Iï¿½ve never seen done before. Baleï¿½s character was so conflicted it was hard to predict his next move and what he was really capable of, then to counter that was the equally impressive performance of Freddy Rodriguez as the mellow cool headed one of the group. This movie takes turns down places you wouldnï¿½t expect which left me interesting throughout its entire duration. At times this film had me laughing, at the edge of my seat, and mesmerized with what was going to happen next. If you were a fan of Training Day you should check this movie out, although there are a few similarities, Harsh Times provides a deeper story with more realistic characters, proving to be a must see.
Harsh Times is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio and offers a good looking transfer for its DVD release. The film looks and feels gritty, many shots are dark and contain grain; however, it is fair to say that this is intended given the material. Colors are dark, lacking the vibrant punch that films like Casino Royale offer, they do however look realistic. There are a few very soft scenes which mute color and details; these were very noticeable compared to the rest of the film. These inconstancies aside Harsh Times still looks great.
Thankfully, the audio is just a solid as the video, offering an impressive Dolby Digital 5.1 track. If you havenï¿½t seen this film, it is comparable to Training Day in terms of the amount of action. Although that might not be as much as a full-fledged action movie, it still provides some great sounding scenes. Rear channels are very active during these scenes, as was the bass. Dialogue sounds consistently good through the entire movie, crisp and clear with no balancing issues. Overall I was very pleased with Harsh Times audio track, it may not be full of action scenes but there is no denying its given material sounds great.
This disc doesnï¿½t really contain many features, but it was nice to see a commentary track included – one which provided some interesting insight into the picture. Although the amount of content is lackluster the little we do get is good.
- Audio Commentary– A commentary by the writer/director of the film David Ayer, worthwhile and interesting to listen to.
- Deleted Scenes– We are given seven deleted scenes from the film which offer even more goodness to an already solid picture. Fans of the picture should definitely check these out.
- Trailer Gallery– A collection of trailers for the film.
A truly good movie with great performances and an impressive script, Harsh Times is worth the buy even with the lack of special features. The audio and video hold up their own making for an overall good disc, and if youï¿½re unsure about this movie its definitely worth the rental if not the purchase.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- Deleted Scenes