Cherry - C+
Rated R, 140 minutes
The ambitious, well-acted new Apple TV+ crime drama "Cherry" is as gritty as its source material, the semi-autobiographical 2018 novel of the same name by Nico Walker. While it's a well-acted, often stark look at addiction, it's also too long and uneven, trying be a film of epic scale when it should t be.
An Army medic named Nico ("Spider-Man's" Tom Holland, playing against type), suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, becomes a serial bank robber after an addiction to opioids puts him and his wife Emily (Ciara Bravo) in debt.
"Cherry" is directed by the Anthony and Joe Russo, who've directed some of the much bigger scale "Avengers" movies, and is written by Angela Russo-Ostot and Jessica Goldberg ("The Path"). Walker's story is a worthy one to be told - an addict so desperate he resorted to robbing banks to support his habit before he was caught, and then wrote his novel while in prison (he has since been released). However, the Russo's attempts to turn Walker's story into more of a gritty Scorsese-type of crime drama isn't the right direction for this story.
The script spends far too much time on the early chapters of his life -namely his adolescence in Ohio and his time in the Army - and not enough time in the final chapters and his recent rehabilitation. The chapter dealing with his time in the Army, which reminds of such military films as "Full Metal Jacket," is given far too much screen time and could've been shorter given that the final chapter, the prison sequence, is given a 5 minute montage at the end. The much darker middle section, dealing with Walker's addiction and bank robbing, is unsurprisingly the highlight and provides some of the best moments of the movie.
Even with the flawed script, Holland gives a terrific, career-best performance, showing a slow transformation to a solid dramatic actor and keeping a safe distance from the "Spider-Man" films he's known for. Bravo is also stellar as his wife/love interest, and watch for Thomas Lennon and Damon Wayans Jr. in memorable supporting roles as a drug dealer and Army drill sergeant, respectively.
"Cherry" ends up about 30 minutes too long, yet still is a powerful reminder of the dangerous effects of addiction and war. It's worth a look particularly for the excellent turn from Holland, who keeps getting better and better.