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Harsh Times Review Critics


Dave White Profile

… snarlier and even dumber [than Training Day]. Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 50

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Frank Scheck

    The film's unrelenting bleakness and misanthropic tone is likely to be a turnoff to mainstream performances, but it provides its lead actor with another opportunity to display his riveting intensity.

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    Harsh Times occasionally echoes "Taxi Driver," Ayer's own "Training Day," and even "First Blood" in the way it examines the psychological disintegration of a character and the seduction of amorality.

    Read Full Review

  • 83

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    Bale is mesmerizing and Rodriguez keeps up with him as the whole unsafe contraption zooms.

    Read Full Review

  • See all Harsh Times reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

not for kids

Complex, mature story of a Gulf War vet in crisis.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie isn't for kids in any way, shape, or form. Full of bloody violence, drug use, lawlessness, and physical abuse, it follows the experiences of a traumatized Afghanistan war veteran and draws connections between what happened to him during combat and his behavior back home in Los Angeles. Weapons include guns of all kind, knives, and grenades; the brutal violence results in gaping wounds and lots of blood. Characters smoke cigarettes and do drugs (meth, coke, pot), and men treat women badly (lying to them as well as taunting and abusing them). Language is incessant -- there are at least 200 uses of "f--k," plus assorted other profanity.

  • Families can talk about the connections between Jim's combat experience and his frustrations back home. How are they linked? How does his behavior reflect what happened to him overseas? While he's admired by his friends for his "macho" behavior, how does the movie also show that he's troubled? What does Marta represent for Jim? How would you compare the romances between Jim and Marta and Mike and Sylvia? Which of the characters represent security, and which represent chaos?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: Outlaws (gang bangers and protagonists) and authorities (including CIA recruiters and cops) are corrupt, aggressive, and foul-mouthed.

What to watch for
  • violence false5

    Violence: Movie begins during combat in the Gulf War (explosions/grenades, shooting, dead bodies, blood); Jim and Mike roam L.A. streets with guns, knives, and brutal attitudes; weapons include guns, knives, fists; one man's throat is cut, another is shot through the face; results of several assaults are very bloody.

  • sex false3

    Sex: Sexual language and jokes ("p---y," "slut"); embraces and kisses; camera ogles women's derrieres to mimic men's perspectives.

  • language false5

    Language: Frequent use of "f--k" (200+ instances), plus other language ("s--t," "ass," "bitch," "faggot").

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false5

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Frequent cigarette smoking, drug use, and drinking to drunkenness; Jim cheats on his drug test to be hired by the CIA.