Review: Tom Holland steals the show (and much more) in addictive ‘Cherry’

The film shows off an entirely new side of the rising actor

‘Cherry’ Twitter | Photo Courtesy
Cherry is available on Apple TV+ now.

The Russo Brothers and Tom Holland are back together outside of Marvel’s reigns. After extensive collaborations between the directing duo and the recent breakout star through Captain America and the Avengers films, they’ve chosen to take a more grounded direction outside of the Marvel franchise.

While “grounded” may be accurate in a sense, ‘Cherry’ proves to be just as much of a thrill ride as the superhero blockbusters they’ve become known for. Based on Nico Walker’s semi-autobiography, Holland stars as the titular character, who happens to be a war veteran turned drug addict and bank robber junkie.

What may sound like a simple story is transformed to be anything but, primarily due to Holland’s enthralling performance. It’s nothing like what he’s shown in the past, as he sheds the skin of his boyish charm for the most serious and compelling role he’s delivered yet.

What makes ‘Cherry’ so engaging is how it’s told to the audience. Just as the book was written, the film is divided into chapters, with each diving into a specific memory or significant moment from Cherry’s past.

They range from his time in the army and soon-to-come raging PTSD, all the way to finding the love of his life in a girl named Emily (Ciara Bravo) and passion for bank robberies to fuel a drug addiction.

While most may hear Cherry’s story and think it is unacceptable to resort to drugs and robberies, the background shown in the film compels the viewer to put themselves in Cherry’s shoes. The true grit of war is displayed in full, with plenty of reasons being offered as to why Cherry came home from war the way he did.

The film itself is a tragedy, as viewers feel compassionate for Cherry. No matter how much he wants to become a better person, just as the audience wants him to be, the environment he’s been surrounded by and pulled him in too far. As we crave redemption for a character that’s made a few too many mistakes, it begins to look less and less likely, just as an autobiographical story may ensue.

While ‘Cherry’ may not be the magnum opus of Holland’s career or the Russo Brothers, it’s without a doubt their most admirable work to date. Breaking out of their blockbuster franchise stereotype has allowed them to dive deep into deeper acting and directing, which is one thing that audiences are bound to crave more of from them after this thrill ride.

Review: 4/5

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