After directing four films from the box-office behemoth that is the MCU, the Russo brothers turned their attention to adapting a novel by Nico Walker, loosely based on his real life, titled Cherry. It's a much more low-key affair than a superhero film about saving the universe from annihilation but with it comes Tom Holland, an actor they worked with on three of those four films in his role as Spider-Man.

Cherry (Tom Holland) is a young man who falls in love with Emily (Ciara Bravo) but upon heartbreak decides to join the US Army as a medic. Suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, he becomes a serial bank robber after an addiction to drugs puts him in debt.

"As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster" are the immortals words uttered by Ray Liotta in Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas, a film that no doubt influenced the Russo brothers in their approach to making Cherry. It's a shame they couldn't reach anywhere near that standard though because Cherry is very much a scattershot mess that has potential to be great but some odd choices hold it back from doing so. I can only see it being one of the most divisive films of the year.

I find myself sitting on the fence with this one because it very much is a film of two halves for me and they do range quite significantly in style and quality. The first half is the weaker of the two, feeling as if the Russo brothers had just picked up a camera for the first time and wanted to show-off to their friends, an inane sense of juvenility to it all, particularly a shot designed to put the audience inside Cherry's rectum looking out.

Luckily, both the screenplay from Angela Russo-Otstot and Jessica Goldberg, as well as the directing from the Russos, matures a considerable amount for the second half of the film. Cherry's struggle to fight PTSD sees him down a slippery slope of drug addiction and crime that was far more engaging than what came previously. Everything just seems to calm down from a certain point in the story, particularly the editing, and it's a wise choice because the second half of the film is really good.

Leading the film is Tom Holland as you've never seen him before, giving his all in a committed performance that took me a little while to get used to. Holland really excels during the moments the film depicts the desperation and trauma of Cherry's life, which is another reason to say the film definitely ends stronger than it begins. Alongside Holland, Ciara Bravo is impressive as his wife, Emily, the pain of not being able to leave a life you'd be better off without coming through and really making the narrative hit hard.

While it definitely has some very good moments and grows in quality as it goes on, Cherry stumbles too much in its first half to become anything better than an average film. Excited to see where Tom Holland goes from here in his career.

Verdict: ★★


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