by Ian Morton
In their first foray away from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Russo brothers are back with a dark anti-war film that tells a very different story to those in the final scenes of Endgame.
Adapted from the novel of the same name, Cherry follows the fallout of a medic following the war in Iraq. After returning from active duty, the soldier is faced with life outside the military and having to deal with the harrowing effects of PTSD, spiralling until robbing a bank is the only way he can feed his addiction.
Playing with an18 certificate like they have something to prove, The Russo’s throw everything at the wall in the hopes that something might stick. Horrors of war? It’s there! Masturbation in a toilet cubicle? Just for laughs! Teenage angst? Why not! Graphic scenes of someone shooting up heroin? Chuck that in too! But for all it crams into its bloaty 2 hour and 22 minute run time, something never quite clicks, turning what could have been an intriguing drama into a sluggish bore.
Considering the sheer impressive scale in which the directing duo have operated over at Marvel, it’s actually quite surprising that a film like this would prove to be the narrative quagmire it proves to be. Tonally, it’s all over the place as it tries to merge tragedy and comedy – think The Big Short meets Full Metal Jacket with a little bit of Requiem for Dream sprinkled on top – that completely disregards character development in order to tell the story through quirky first person narration and fourth wall breaks. This oddly constructed technique is grating as it completely takes you out of events unfolding on screen and is more infuriating than absorbing.
Taking on the challenge of Cherry is Tom Holland, giving a powerhouse performance despite the film going out of its way to make you feel absolutely nothing for him. Miles away from his Peter Parker counterpart, Holland capitalises on the opportunity, giving more than enough for the young actor to get his teeth into. The supporting cast fall by the wayside with little to no time given to fleshing out their reason for being. Poor Ciara Bravo is pushed so far into the background and given so little to do, she quickly descends into arguably the most irritating part of the entire piece in spite of her story being just as tragic.
Two years ago we admired the Russo’s for doing the unthinkable and satisfyingly concluding the insane 11 year Marvel arc started way back in 2008. Away from superherodom however, The Russo Brothers feel like they have bitten off a little more with Cherry than they can chew.
Cherry is available on AppleTV+ Now!