From premise alone, it is clear Cherry will run on all the predictable cladding necessary for a dramatic crime thriller. Pulling down Marvel’s safety blanket, Tom Holland, along with brothers Joe and Anthony Russo, find themselves exposed to the harsh realities of life. Their nonsense will not stick here, and rightly so, for they have crafted an utterly deplorable film. Emotionless films are nothing out of the ordinary, but when you have to denote a prologue with a size thirty-six font with “PROLOGUE”, you have misjudged your audience. You are not preaching to dumbfounded basement dwellers and children ready to sweep up the latest batch of action figures now, Russo’s, you do have to try. Someone should have relayed that to them before they entered production on Cherry because the glossy sheen and security they revel in is undesirable and stagnant.
Dead on arrival, the fourth wall breaking clumsiness breaks down any slight, perceivable notion that Cherry will have even a second of quality. Holland has yet to prove himself as a consistent, engaging lead without the Disney banner. He wasn’t good in The Devil All the Time, nor was he that memorable in the bit-part thrown his way in Locke. His turn as the eponymous character is poor, but that may be because of the dialogue, rather than his acting and actions. That is not to say either are any good, there is a sliver of evidence so far to suggest Holland is in fact a solid performer. He needs to quantify that soon, or audiences will begin to turn faster than I did on Cherry.
“I just stood there, holding a gun, taking her in, something overtook me, a kind of sadness…” he mumbles. He mumbles most of his dialogue. Soon after this, we are whisked away from the prologue and back to the past. Cherry and his love interest, Emily (Ciara Bravo) are introduced in what can only be described as “stifled” dialogue. It took three people to write this script, yet only two minutes to know that Cherry is not well written.
These vague, meaningless lines dangle throughout Cherry. It is perhaps for the best that we can barely hear them over the lazy soundtrack and characterless direction. Holland talks down to the audience, rather than to them. No fault of his own, but it is hard to take him seriously when the Russo Brothers have no confidence in displaying their story. Instead, they get Holland to repeatedly interject, introducing character after character. “He wants to do a thing, just let him do a thing” one character says. Who knows what their name is, but I imagine it is this advice that was given to the producers of Cherry. Who cares what they do? They have name value and a cushy deal with Apple+ to make this soulless bile.
Dreary it may be, Cherry crushes crumby lines and cringe-inducing wordplay into it at any possible moment. It is difficult to give it the benefit of the doubt, especially considering its running time. There is not a flicker of chemistry between Holland and Bravo, but they are pushed together and a series of montage shots show their happy life and subsequent highs and lows. Who cares? It is difficult to cling to characters who have no voice of their own. When it seems Emily is going to offer some dialogue or say something, Holland interjects with a narration of his own. Nobody has anything particularly interesting to say anyway. Nobody within this piece has anything to say. No themes, no message, not a single second of inspired content. It is another cog in a failing machine.
When you are to criticise the crime genre and those who have made their name within (see Martin Scorsese and his scathing criticism of the Marvel machine) it is quite a bold move to make a project that feels both dated and empty. While others evolve and debut stronger projects, Cherry is trapped in a vortex. It would have been of an acceptable quality had it released fifteen years ago, but there is always the sense throughout that the Russo Brothers are clinging to their days when splitting a film into titled “parts” was a good idea. “He painted houses, but he wasn’t working”, a bold move to have a shifty-eyed reference to The Irishman. It is clear what Cherry wants to be, but it has no way of getting there. Not through lack of trying, but through what it tries. Black and white, slow-motion, fourth wall breaks, generic direction, a disgracefully poor portrayal of post-traumatic stress disorder, boring characters and a thorough inability to hold the camera on one set moment. It rushes through all the conventional elements of the genre, with no respect for what it does, why it does it, or who it is meant to be for. Messy, laughably poor, and beyond irredeemable.