David Ayer made his mark in Hollywood as a screenwriter, but finally got his shot at directing with Harsh Times. This gritty crime drama finds Christian Bale playing a wannabe cop with "crazed conviction" opposite Freddy Rodriguez as his skittish sidekick. Conceived as a companion piece to Training Day (which Ayer scripted) it earned good reviews, but showed less muscle at the box office.
Ayer describes making Harsh Times as "one of the most profound experiences of my life," in a half-hour behind-the-scenes documentary. No doubt it was also one of the scariest as he used his own money to get the project off the ground. We follow him from locations in and around Los Angeles to rural areas of Mexico where he manages to stage scenes of high-octane violence on a shoestring budget. Worryingly the effects team are still trying to figure things out just a few minutes before the cameras roll while actor Emilio Rivera gets hot under the collar prepping for the bit where he gets his throat gashed in a bar fight.
Bale, Rodriguez and Eva Longoria reflect on the experience of making a film without big budget hoopla, and naturally give full credit to Ayer. Bale applauds the fledgling director for letting him improvise with the script - or, as he puts it "taking it away". However we do have to point out that Bale says this just after wrapping on as scene where he goes loco with a sub machinegun. 'Nuff said.
A behind-the-scenes photo gallery complements the documentary, and that's your lot. Like the film, it may leave you wanting slightly, but for those who enjoyed Training Day, this DVD is certainly worth a two hours of your time.
Harsh Times DVD is released on Monday 30th April 2007.