It was inevitable that when you direct the highest-grossing film EVER - "Avengers: Endgame" - that your follow-up film would be destined to pale in comparison. But for Anthony and Joe Russo, who have risen to fame and fandom after directing a slew of beloved Marvel movies ("Captain America: Winter Soldier," "Avengers: Age of Ultron," "Avengers: Infinity War" and "Avengers: Endgame" among them), "Cherry" is more than a step-down, it is a baffling fall from grace.
Based on the novel of the same name by Nico Walker, "Cherry" is packed with flavor, even if the combination leaves a bittersweet taste. Laid-out in an annoying "Prologue, Chapter so-and-so, Epilogue" format on-screen, the story follows Tom Holland's character as he goes from a love-stricken college student, to an Iraqi war veteran with PTSD, who robs banks to support his and his wife, Emily's (Ciara Bravo) heroin addiction. It's directed with confidence by The Russo Brothers, but it is a jumbled amalgam of scenes and characters that never congeals into anything of substance.
Obviously many films are based or adapted from novels, but not having read the book, "Cherry" comes across as a film that tried desperately to stuff everything in, and in doing so, ironically hollowed out the story. It is unfocused, and goes from what appears to be a young romance, to a war film, and then into something else entirely...and that's all even before Holland and his group of misfits (including "Midsommar's Jack Reynor and son of the late James Gandolfini, Michael Gandolfini) begin their bank heists.
In spurts, there is cleverness, or areas where the Russo Brothers effectively inject style, but these moments are sporadic and inconsistent. There is a tighter, shorter version of "Cherry" that might have been effective, but judging by its content, the filmmakers might not have felt like they were able to do the book justice in focusing it and honing it down. Conversely, this jam-packed version is way to convoluted and long-winded to matter.
Tom Holland is a fine actor, but those that come to this film after seeing him as their neighborhood superhero Spider-Man/Peter Parker, are in for a shock as well. Honestly, hearing his foul-mouth and overall demeanor is a bit jarring at first. He does a fine job however, as does child-actor Ciara Bravo, who is somewhat of a break-through here, although it's a bit frustrating to watch her character go down the path that was chosen for her.
"Cherry" is a complete misfire, full of too much filling and not enough sweetness to satisfy.
Genre: Crime, Drama.
Run Time: 2 hours 20 minutes.
Starring: Tom Holland, Ciara Bravo, Jack Reynor, Jeff Wahlberg, Forrest Goodluck, Michael Gandolfini.
Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo ("Avengers: End Game," "Avengers: Infinity War," "Captain America: Civil War," "Captain America: Winter Soldier," "You, Me and Dupree").
"Cherry" is in theaters on Friday, February 26th, 2021 and streaming on Apple TV+ on March 12th, 2021.
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