‘Cherry’ review: Tom Holland acts methodically in a Russo brothers flop

In “Cherry,” Tom Holland sports a haircut, dead eyes, and a mischievous complexion. In a look-on-my-badass change from the effusive heroics of the “Spider-Man” movies, he plays an Iraq war veteran turned opiate addict turned heroin addict turned heroin addict. bank robber, and he looks distracted and nervous. out like Eminem like a fallen Eagle Scout. It gives him cold sweats, he cries real tears and speaks in a phlegmatic voice, he contorts his face into a pale mask of pain, and at one point he rubs the top of his head and says, “I have this noise in my head. …Why can’t it stop? When his girlfriend, also a drug addict, dumps him for a while, he sits in his car and sticks a hypodermic needle into her thigh, over and over again, to make her feel something.

Holland’s character is never named (he’s a real guy out of nowhere) and theoretically is the kind of role you might imagine Sean Penn taking on in the late 80’s or 90’s. Penn, addicted to edge, was always reinforcing his mojo of the Method, and that, in an exaggerated corporate way, is “Cherry’s” mission. The film is a double dose of brand extension. For Holland, the motivation is obvious: He’s showing that he’s not just a kid in a spandex suit, a lightweight “escapist” star; it can also do really heavy stuff. But “Cherry” is also an eye-catching ad for its directors, Anthony and Joe Russo, the superstar superhero authors of the “Avengers” and “Captain America” ​​movies. In “Cherry”, they are proving their credibility on the dark side of the street.

Except everything plays like a giant synthetic pot! “Cherry” is based on a 2018 semi-autobiographical novel by Nico Walker, a decorated veteran of the US Army who served time in prison for bank robbery, and the book was celebrated as a courageous generational rallying cry. The Russo brothers, working in a flamboyant style with a trowel, blow it up on a showreel. They’re trying to think outside of Marvel and show their skills in the real world, but what they’re showing instead is that even with material as deep as this, they still think like fantasy. “Cherry” has the brilliant inauthenticity of a bad Tony Scott movie. Russians treat Walker’s novel like a graphic novel – a grunge layer cake that’s all frosting.

It begins as a love story set in college, where Holland’s anonymous hero, a fool with glasses and floppy bangs, meets Emily (Ciara Bravo), who plays hard to get, then doesn’t, and then plays hard to get. again, saying he’s going to school in Montreal (but only because he’s scared of how deep his love is). This leaves Holland so lost that he enlists in the Army, allowing the Russians to stage a basic training sequence that is like a movie imitation of “Full Metal Jacket.” (This is where the movie calls Holland a “cherry”). Then it goes to the Iraq War, where the Russians can at least take advantage of their action skills, staging the battle with dizzying camerawork and explosive bombast, although this sequence, despite all spilled guts, feels no more. Authentic than “Forrest Gump’s” Vietnam. In each case, it is difficult to shake the feeling that the filmmakers are staging these wars to use they.

Back home (which, by the way, is Cleveland), Holland spirals into post-traumatic stress disorder and Oxycontin addiction. He has a nighttime panic (“I didn’t sleep. And when I did, I dreamed violently”), and at one point he takes Emily to the theater and yells at someone for wearing an LL Bean jacket instead of dressing (making you wonder if this is PTSD or “Project Runway”). However, despite the cliches of bad behavior, the combat does not seem to have altered him internally.

The problem with “Cherry” is that the movie presents itself as a part of life filled with dread, but almost every moment feels based not on experience but on the experience of other movies. The Russos elevator blossoms with everything from “Natural Born Killers” to “Far From Heaven” to Wes Anderson, mixed in slow motion and opera snippets, with stylized, magnified sounds and images highlighted with a kind of music from the 80. -Video cut into “meaning”. However, we are never convinced of the organic truth of the story they tell. Holland’s uninterrupted voice-over narration (“I’m 23 years old and I still don’t understand what people do. It’s like this is all based on nothing and nothing holds it all together”) indicates how the filmmakers don’t trust in which the material will take on a life of its own. Instead, each scene says, “Look at the cool way we illustrate this!”

Tom Holland is not a bad actor and in “Cherry” he shows his ability. Touch a variety of looks and dissolute moods. However, there is no real danger to him. (That’s the difference between a good boy from Marvel and a bad boy from Sean Penn.) “Cherry”, after hesitating, finds a semblance of exaggerated coherence in its second half, when it becomes a drama of two addicts. spiraling into the abyss. It’s like seeing “Sid and Nancy” as a “Top Gun” style middle class doomfest. Holland’s character isn’t just a desperate addict, he’s a colossally stupid, self-destructive addict. When asked to protect a drug dealer’s portable safe, he and Emily end up opening it and stealing the small mountain of drugs inside. Why do they do it? So the movie can get by with its shameless masochistic extravaganza.

And I haven’t even talked about bank robberies! Thieves tend to wear masks and they have plans, because there are these things called surveillance cameras, and also the police, who have a way of meddling with the success of crime. But in “Cherry,” Holland simply walks into one Cleveland bank after another, no disguise, waving his gun, having strangely friendly conversations with the tellers (who are all women) as they hand out wads of bills. And then … nothing. No police chase, no repercussions. We realize, of course, that it can’t last, but we also realize, with a sinking feeling, that the Russians must now think they are making a Tarantino movie. No. Not even close. There is hardly a moment in “Cherry” that is believable, but the real crime of the film is that there is not a moment that is pleasant either. The only emotion the film conveys is being full of itself.

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