Cherry is a story of PTSD and the effects of drugs and war on the young and misguided. The Russo Brothers waste their Avengers street cred on a messy depiction of the American dream blowing up in your face. Tom Holland attempts to reach for something that he doesn't have in a performance that's wildly not for him, while The Russos borrow style and plotting from far better filmmakers, leaving Cherry feeling like an over-stuffed slog.
Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo‘s Cherry is the latest Apple TV+ exclusive to feature a large budget and an even larger running time. Cherry, based on a novel by Nico Walker, is an uninspired mess of a film, clocking in at two-and-a-half hours with almost nothing to say, coming off like a poor man’s Martin Scorsese picture with all of the excess and none of the fun. Tom Holland struggles piecing together a performance that’s clearly way over his head, while The Russos inject the film with as much artificial flashy photography as possible. This Cherry is sour and should be spat out immediately.
Cherry (Tom Holland) is a misguided youth with not a clue in the world. He falls hard in love with Emily (Ciara Bravo) and vows to marry her and love her until the end of his days, which leads him straight into the Army for a painful tour of war and death, followed by a drug addiction and a string of bank robberies. To say that Cherry lived an interesting life is an understatement, so why does The Russos latest film feel like the most painfully boring slog of 2021?
The problem with Cherry is that it tries so desperately to become something that it isn’t. The Russos are clearly inspired by the likes of Martin Scorsese and Guy Ritchie and want Cherry to translate into another 2.5 hour binge of drugs, sex and chaos, but their film never feels anything. There are no emotions worth experiencing or sharing while watching this film, despite the titular character not being the most unlikable schmuck, but instead a misguided adolescent trying to navigate through this world to the best of his under-educated and half-cooked ideas, abilities.
Cherry isn’t a horrible person. He’s just not a very deep human being and his motivations aren’t fully thought out before execution, which lands him into heaping piles of trouble all throughout the film. You’d think these moments would be occasionally comical, but also sad and maybe even angering at some point, but they’re all just sort of existing on this plane of Cherry’s existence.
At least, that’s what The Russos‘ direction presents. Despite all of the insanity going on throughout the film, not once did I feel bad or feel remorse for a single character throughout the film. Maybe it’s the forced fourth-wall breaking or maybe it’s the general lack of purpose that surrounds each and every decision Cherry makes?
I don’t quite know, but what I do know is that Cherry is all influence and no real source of truth. At not one point does the film feel like The Russo Brothers stamped their own creative spin onto it. The script, penned by Angela Russo-Otstot and Jessica Goldberg, takes us from scene to scene and does a fine job explaining where we are and why, but fails to hit home any of the messages being conveyed.
Cherry is a story of PTSD and the effects of drugs and war on the young and misguided. It’s also a messy depiction of the American dream blowing up in your face as the country that you fought for fails to support you once you return home and yet none of that is the least bit interesting. At one point, I almost forgot that Tom Holland‘s character was carrying on with a string of bank robberies, because the movie just glosses them over as a point of humorous conversation and I honestly checked out.
Tom Holland is trying so hard to deliver a performance that’s well beyond his reach. He’s fine here, but far from convincing and clearly the wrong choice for a character requiring such commitment and exploration. Maybe I am bias and just can’t see Holland in such a role or maybe he just bit off more than he can chew? All I know is that I don’t fault him as much as I fault The Russos for failing to give him the proper tools (clear direction, a coherent script, etc.) to even attempt such a performance.
I can’t believe The Russos went from being the Marvel darlings to this steaming pile of stink. Avengers: Infinity War is one of my absolute favorite MCU movies and yet the same guys that managed to balance all of those characters and all of that emotion failed to deliver a film with mainly one character and a small ensemble. Nothing about Cherry feels sincere or the least bit calculated, which makes for an exhausting experience that I would suggest approaching with absolute caution.