Tom Holland and the Russo brothers have teamed up once again, but this time it's not for a superhero movie. No, Cherry is very different than their MCU ventures.
Cherry stars Tom Holland as a former army medic who gets hooked on opioids to deal with his PTSD, and begins robbing banks to support his habit. Cherry is definitely a departure from the star's role as Spider-Man. It's directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, who have established themselves as legends of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, directing several of the most successful Marvel films, including Avengers: Infinity Warand Avengers: Endgame. Those two films also happen to be two of the highest grossing films of all time, which might have had a little something to do with how they made Cherry. The new movie also stars Ciara Bravo and Jack Reynor.
Cherry debuts in select theaters on February 26, and arrives on AppleTV+ on March 12. While you wait to see the film either in a theater or on the streaming service, check out what critics have said so far about the movie.
It’s easy to understand why the Russos leaned on Holland to play their lead role in this difficult adaptation, because the actor’s now known for making exaggerated characters seem believable. The end result is a tour de force for Holland, his courageous co-star Ciara Bravo, and for the Russos, who break free from the invisible limitations that success in the comic-book genre can apply.
David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter was not as impressed with Cherry. He calls the cast “capable,” but heavily criticizes the Russo brothers' direction. He points out that visual impact constantly drowns out any actual emotional involvement, noting that it’s hard to get invested in any of the characters. He says:
Basically a two hour-plus marriage of dirty-realist misery porn with flashy technique followed by five minutes of the most clichéd and unearned redemption, this grandiose misfire does nothing to advance Apple TV+'s footprint in the original film arena.
David Ehrlich from IndieWire also heavily criticized the film, calling it a “scuzzy, interminable, and misjudged adaptation of (Nico) Walker’s life story.” He also calls Tom Holland “miscast,” and though Ehrlich does commend Holland’s commitment, he notes:
Fresh-faced Tom Holland — despite his admirable commitment to the bit — radiates so much friendly neighborhood sincerity that he can only wear his character’s indifference like it’s just another mask.
The harsh criticism seems to be a common theme. Though Owen Gleiberman of Variety does note that Tom Holland proves his skill set and wide range in Cherry, he says “there’s no real danger to him.” He calls the movie “inauthentic,” and criticizes the Russo brothers for trying too hard to prove that they can direct more than superhero movies. He says:
For Holland, the motivation is obvious: He’s proving that he’s not just a kid in a spandex suit, a lightweight “escapist” star — he can do the real-deal heavy stuff too. But Cherry is also a showy advertisement for its directors, Anthony and Joe Russo, the superstar superhero auteurs of the Avengers and Captain America films. In Cherry, they’re proving their dark-side-of-the-street cred.
Alonso Duralde of The Wrap commends Tom Holland, Ciara Bravo, and Jack Reynor for making the most of what they were given. He applauds the moments of emotional honesty in the film, such as Holland’s call home from Iraq after his friend’s death, calling it “tough and powerful to witness.” But Duralde is also frustrated with the Russo brothers’ storytelling, noting that they used addiction not “as a source of drama, character, or commentary, but more as a chance to gawk at tragedy.” Duralde commented:
As a showcase for Holland, Cherry absolutely offers the chance to stretch and expand his talents to places that the Spider-Man franchise would never allow. Beyond that, however, this is a distressingly familiar tale of trauma and addiction that often plays like a cover version of older, better movies about war and drugs.
That older, better movies theme was also picked up on in the review from What To Watch. Author Leigh Monson argued the film takes inspiration from a ton of different places but never is able to mesh them together into anything that's satisfying or consistent. Here's an excerpt of the review...
Cherry takes inspirations from Fight Club, Full Metal Jacket, Jarhead, and Requiem For A Dream to put them in a blender for a punishing two hours and twenty minutes, but instead of congealing into a satisfying whole, they simply create sequential layers of clashing flavors that make you want to lie down from the effort of chugging it all in one sitting.
On the whole, most critics seem to have more issues with Cherry than positive things to say about it, but audiences will have the chance to see for themselves when the movie opens in theaters on February 26 and is made available streaming on AppleTV+ starting March 12. In the meantime, you can check out other movies coming up this year on our 2021 Release Calendar, and also start mentally preparing for the recently-titled (for real) Spider-Man: No Way Home, which sees Tom Holland return as our friendly neighborhood web-slinger and will be in theaters at the end of the year.