Harsh Times

Harsh Times is a 2005 American action crime film set in South Central Los Angeles. The film stars Christian Bale and Freddy Rodriguez, and was written and directed by David Ayer. The film was distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Bauer Martinez Entertainment. Ayer says that the film's characters are largely based on the people he knew when he lived in South Central.

Harsh Times
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDavid Ayer
Produced byDavid Ayer
Andrea Sperling
Written byDavid Ayer
StarringChristian Bale
Freddy Rodriguez
Eva Longoria
Terry Crews
Noel Gugliemi
Music byGraeme Revell
CinematographySteve Mason
Edited byConrad Buff
Bauer Martinez Entertainment
Distributed byMGM Distribution Co.
Release date
  • September 11, 2005 (2005-09-11) (Toronto International Film Festival)
  • November 10, 2006 (2006-11-10) (United States)
Running time
116 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$2 million
Box office$6 million[1]


Jim Davis (Christian Bale) is a former U.S. Army Ranger who suffers from posttraumatic stress disorder. Jim has a Mexican girlfriend, Marta (Tammy Trull), whom he is determined to marry and bring into the United States to start a life together. With this in mind, Jim returns to Los Angeles, California.

In Los Angeles, Jim meets up with his best friend Mike Alonzo (Freddy Rodriguez). Mike's longtime girlfriend, Sylvia (Eva Longoria), a young attorney, is "on the warpath" over his failure to get a job (his previous job was outsourced) and she encourages Jim to help Mike hand out resumes. After being denied a position in the Los Angeles Police Department for failing the psychological profile, Jim gets drunk with Mike.

The two visit Jim's ex-girlfriend, but when her current boyfriend shows up, a fight ensues in which the boyfriend is backed up by a group of friends. Jim is able to get the upper hand and when Mike produces a gun, they subdue the men and rob them of their possessions, including marijuana and a handgun which they later decide to sell. Jim later leaves messages on Mike's answering machine with several different voices, pretending to be companies responding to his resume.

The next day, Jim goes to visit Mike and finds Sylvia in a good mood due to the fake callbacks. Jim and Mike go to a "paisa" bar to try to sell the gun, but leave after their potential buyer is killed. Mike is horrified, but Jim is strangely excited by witnessing death again.

When Mike arrives back home drunk, Sylvia is upset, so Mike plays back the answering machine, unaware that his friend didn't hang up early enough and his voice is heard on the tape. Sylvia is enraged and throws Mike out. He stays at Jim's place. Jim gets shortlisted for a position with the Department of Homeland Security, but, after cheating to pass a urine test, he fails a polygraph test due to a question about his drug use. The only hope left for him is a government agent working out of Colombia, who appreciates Jim's ability to "get things done"; Jim eventually accepts the position but is warned that he must not marry a foreigner. Jim is told to report to FLETC in a few days. Meanwhile, Mike gets a job with a company managed by an old friend.

Mike goes to visit Sylvia and tells her that he has a job for real. She calms down and the two make love. Impatient, Jim goes inside and tells Sylvia that Mike is coming to Mexico with him for the weekend, as it is their last chance to hang out. Sylvia is angry and against the idea, but Mike decides to go with Jim and Marta to Mexico.

In Mexico, the trio attend a big party where Marta reveals she is pregnant, and Jim responds violently, threatening to punch her in the stomach and shoot her in the head.

On the way back, Jim reveals that he is transporting 20 kilos of marijuana. When Mike protests, Jim pulls a gun on him, flashing back, before breaking down in tears, horrified at what he is becoming. Mike, filled with pity for his friend, agrees to accompany Jim to the deal. When they arrive, they realize one of the buyers was the same man they had earlier robbed and beaten, the boyfriend of Jim's old flame.

Hostility ensues with both Jim and the other gang members pulling out guns, resulting in the other man's death. The other members of the buying party plead for their lives, but Jim kills them while suffering flashbacks. While Jim and Mike are escaping in the car, a man comes from the house and shoots at the car with an Armsel Striker; Jim is hit in the back and face and subsequently paralyzed.

He urges Mike to "step up" and shoot him, thus ending his suffering. After some hesitation, Mike and Jim say their goodbyes and Mike ends up killing Jim. The film ends with Mike returning to Sylvia. They embrace together as Mike breaks down crying.



Home videoEdit

The DVD was released on March 13, 2007 and the HD DVD on June 12, 2007 by Genius Products and The Weinstein Company. The film itself was presented in anamorphic widescreen, along with English language and Spanish language Dolby Digital 5.1. Surround tracks. Special features included seven deleted scenes and a feature-length audio commentary by David Ayer. The HD DVD is presented in 1080p with a MPEG-4 AVC encoding and has a Dolby TrueHD track in addition to a Dolby Digital Plus track for its audio. Additionally, the film was released on Blu-ray Disc in Germany by Splendid Entertainment on August 26, 2008. It is presented in 1080p with two DTS-HD 5.1 tracks in English and German.

Distributor Alliance Atlantis released Harsh Times on Blu-ray in Canada roughly a year later on September 15, 2009. This edition is presented in a 1080p transfer utilizing the AVC codec, a DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack in English, and two Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks in English and French. Most recently, On December 14, 2010, Vivendi Entertainment brought Harsh Times to Blu-ray in the United States, sporting a new 1080p AVC transfer, a DTS-HD MA 5.1 English soundtrack and standard Dolby Digital 2.0 track in Spanish, and English subtitles. Three extras, previously available on the U.S. DVD, are also included: An audio commentary with writer/director/producer David Ayer, seven deleted scenes, and a making-of documentary.

Digital distributionEdit

MGM Studios made Harsh Times available on Hulu on August 30, 2010. Its first Television Broadcast Internationally was on MGM'S Film and TV Network This TV on May 16, 2013.


The reaction from audiences and critics were mixed. Christian Bale won praise for his portrayal of Jim. According to Rotten Tomatoes, 48% of reviews of the film were positive.[2]


External linksEdit