The Reel Review
Tom Holland (Spider-man: Far From Home) reunites with the Russo brothers (Avengers: Endgame, Avengers: Infinity War) in this AppleTV+ crime drama about an Army medic who, after returning home to Cleveland from Iraq with severe PTSD, becomes a bank robber to support his opioid addiction. It is based on Nico Walker’s semi-autobiographical 2018 debut novel, which he wrote while in prison.
It is clear that the Russo brothers, in this departure from their wildly successful Marvel films, wanted to create The Great American Movie. But they seem more interested in showing off their over-the-top filmmaking skills than presenting a blistering indictment of the Iraq War, the disgraceful treatment of war veterans, and the pill-pushing doctors who have contributed so heavily to America’s opioid epidemic.
We get a LOT of voiceovers from the protagonist throughout Cherry, as the visual details of his life as a college dropout, soldier, drug addict and bank robber are swallowed up in a tsunami of self-indulgent filmmaking. Instead of Citibank, our main character robs “Shitty Bank” and while in Iraq, the last name on his uniform is simply “Soldier,” just to name a couple.
Holland, as usual, is outstanding as the increasingly untethered lost soul. But at nearly two and a half hours, Cherry is agonizingly long, especially the second half, where he and his girlfriend-turned-wife Emily (an equally excellent Ciara Bravo) become strung out junkies and Jack Reynor (Midsommar) shows up as their drug dealer named Pills & Coke. 🙄 A simpler, more straightforward tell with more emotion and fewer moments of injecting heroin in slow motion to operatic arias would have made this film so much better.
• After returning from Iraq in 2006, Cherry author Nico Walker got hooked on opiates, then heroin, and robbed 11 banks over a four month period before being caught and sentenced to 11 years in prison. He was released in 2019. One psychologist said Walker’s PTSD was one of the worst he’d experienced.
• Tom Holland was 23 years old when filming began on Cherry – the same age as the story’s protagonist.
• Cherry was adapted into a screenplay by Angela Russo-Otstot (the Russo brothers’ sister) and Jessica Goldberg, creator of the Hulu series The Path.