Cherry is a 2021 crime drama directed by Anthony and Joe Russo. The screenplay is penned by Angela Russo-Otstot and Jessica Goldberg. The screenplay is based on a novel of the same name by the author Nico Walker. Cherry stars Tom Holland, Ciara Bravo, Jack Reynor, Michael Rispoli, and Jeff Wahlberg. The film is about an Army veteran who is suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). To support his opioid addiction, he begins robbing banks. The movie is inspired by Nico Walker’s semi-autobiographical novel of the same name that came out in 2018. Going into the film, you would be excited for the project, to say the least. The premise of the movie is something that’s very out of the left-field for the star and the Russo brothers. Coming fresh out of one of the biggest movies of all time, Holland and Russo brothers provide for some great hype.
Cherry hit theatres on February 26, 2021. It was released digitally on Apple TV+ on March 12, 2021. Despite the star power of Tom Holland and the big names like the Russo brothers, the movie fails to live up to the expectations. Tom Holland tries his best, but the rest of the stuff is plain underwhelming. The novel it is Inspired by presents a rather gritty picture of war and opioid addiction. The film, however, decides to embellish the story and make it all flashy. This is not exactly the thing you want to do when making a film about war trauma. Making a film about war trauma is difficult enough already. Going for a stylized depiction of war runs the risk of fetishizing, romanticizing, or glorifying the horror of humanity. Unfortunately, Cherry does exactly that. It’s worse when you’re contending with not only war-induced trauma but also opioid addiction.
Cherry — Plot Details and Synopsis
We begin with Cherry (Holland) falling in love with Emily, his college classmate. Slowly, their relationship develops. But it comes to a halt when Emily decides to leave for Montreal for her studies. A sad and shattered Cherry enlists in the Army to overcome the heartbreak. He enlists as a medic in the Army. As Cherry is about to leave for basic training, Emily comes back. She has realized that it’s a mistake to leave the relationship and confesses her love for him. Following that, Cherry and Emily marry each other before Cherry is deployed.
We then see how Cherry goes through a series of horrifying war scenarios. His horrors of war include witnessing his friend, Jimenez, getting burnt and killed from an IED blast. All these terrifying experiences result in Cherry getting inflicted by PTSD. After he returns home after the war, he’s prescribed drugs by the doctor to help cope with PTSD symptoms. The doctor prescribes a drug, OxyContin, to help him with his trauma. However, Cherry, to repress his severe anxiety and panic attacks, abuses the drug. Meanwhile, Emily doesn’t know how to help Chery with his drug abuse and trauma. She gets frustrated with his drug abuse and starts taking his medication to cope with that. This leads to the two becoming addicted to OxyContin. The two then become junkies, moving on to different drugs like heroin.
Drug Abuse and Bank Robberies
The addiction soon leads the two to more troubles. Cherry has been looking after a safe from his drug dealer called Pills and Coke. The couple decides to break into the safe. Cherry and Emily find drugs inside the safe and use most of them. Afterward, Pills and Coke comes to check up on the safe and finds it empty. Cherry then learns that the boss of the drug dealer is Black, who owns the safe. He discovers that the three of them will be killed for breaking into the safe and emptying it. To save themselves, Chery decides to make up for it to through money.
Cherry robs a bank and gives the money to pay back for the dug they used. But that’s not the end of the robberies. He keeps this gig going to support his and Emily’s addiction problems. Their growing heroin addiction results in the robberies becoming more and more frequent. As Cherry keeps on robbing banks, their addiction gets worse and worse. They also go through many withdrawals, which pushes Cherry to rob more. Soon, Emily overdoses on drugs and is hospitalized. She almost dies from the overdoses. In the hospital, Cherry encounters Emily’s mother, who lambasts him. She asks him to leave Emily alone, which he does.
Cherry Continues His Drug Abuse and Robberies
Emily later leaves her drug rehabilitation facility and goes back to Cherry. Feeling guilty about her condition, Cherry tells her to go back and leave him. He tries to persuade her to leave him since he’s not going for her health or life. Emily is not taking any of it, though. She tells her that she just wants to be with him. Even if staying with Cherry comes at the cost of abusing drugs, Emily wants to stay with him. The two continue living and getting high together. However, their growing addiction requires money. And thus, Cherry brings his drug dealer, Pills and Coke, and another friend to rob more banks. He plans to be able to rob multiple places at once.
They start robbing the banks together. During one of these robberies, Pills, and Coke bails out, leaving Cherry to do the robbery alone. After the robbery, Cherry and his friend drive away in a getaway car. Cherry then says to his friend that Pills and Coke will likely get caught and rat them out. They then turn around and search for him. They eventually find Pills and Coke, and Cherry puts him inside the car. That’s when Cherry discovers that Pills and Coke have been shot and are bleeding. Cherry is then forced to leave him by the side of the road, where he eventually dies from the gunshot inflicted wound. Later on, Black comes to Cherry demanding the rest of the money for the drug-debt.
One Last Robbery and Climax
Cherry decides to pull off one last robbery. He says goodbye to Emily and sets out to rob the bank. While he’s robbing the bank, he tells the bank teller to set the alarm off before he leaves. Chery then proceeds to pay Black all his money back. After that, Cherry goes out on the open road and fires shot in the air, getting the police’s attention. Police arrive and arrest him as he gets high for the last time. He goes through detoxification in the prison and does his time. After releasing on parole, he gets out and finds Emily waiting for him.
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Cherry Is A Visually Daring but Substantially Lacking Affair
Cherry has many visual flourishes that just do not fit in. There are these slo-mo shots, overhead shots, stylized lighting, and more that I think are uncalled for. The novel is a bleak and flat account of what happened in Walker’s life. And although the film does manage to bring that bleakness and dark tone sometimes, most of it is unnecessarily stylized. I don’t know what the directors were going for but trying to break that marvel mold doesn’t quite work. There are also few bits like the plaque in front of the doctor reading “Dr. Whomever,” and the name of the bank being “SHITTY BANK”. All of these visual tricks and gimmicks do not work and feel tonally inconsistent.
The acting by Tom Holland is what holds the film together for me. He goes a good job at conveying Cherry’s lost, anxious, and trauma-hit person. But the flashy creative choices and visual flair do not complement the performance or the subject matter it’s tackling. The characters are not likable, and I found caring for them quite difficult. The film seems to be deriving from a lot of genre classics. It’s understandable the choice to go a different and fresh route after the studio-driven Marvel movies, but the film’s distinct flourishes do not feel warranted.
Our Rating for the Cherry movie is 2 out of 5. A stylized spectacle with a few things landing with mostly inconsistent and generic choices.
Cherry is currently streaming on Apple TV+.