God bless Tom Holland and his frog-smuggling chin. His effort to avoid his hero status sticking to him like webbing has been commendable lately. Following his fairly dark Netflix trip with The Devil All The Time opposite Robert Pattinson, his latest endeavour outside the spider-suit is Cherry, which sees him reunite with the Russo Brothers in a so-crazy-but-true story crammed with lots for the young actor to chew on. The only issue is that the directing duo handling proceedings make such a meal out of it all.
The strange thing is, it’s not like they’ve not given us a feast before. Even their work of wrapping up a story spanning 20-films and one cinematic universe needed to be halved, but they managed all the same. Cherry feels like a tale that needed the same treatment. Based on Nico Walker’s book, Holland plays our leading man who lives what feels like about four biopics in one, as he’s forced to endure a broken heart, the horrors of war and going on to feed a drug addiction by robbing banks. Cherry isn’t so much as dealt a poor hand but more repeatedly slapped with one. Now, if that sounds like a mad cocktail of a film, it’s because it is. The Russo’s are going full speed, putting Holland through his paces but don’t seem to make any breathing time for him or the story as a whole.
In the right hands, this could’ve been legit Oscar fodder given the heavy material at work here. One part, Jarhead, a sprinkle of Trainspotting, and a splash of True Romance, there’s an absolute mish-mash of a story to be told, but one that needed time to air rather than rush through. Instead, it’s one traumatic moment after the next, but the space between them isn’t fleshed out enough to make an impact. Holland’s protagonist loses friends and screwed over by others, and we don’t care because there’s been very little time spent even getting to know them. The Russo’s are too busy throwing in some out-there visuals or shooting a camera up their leading man’s arse (seriously). Anal cavity insights aside, some impressive instances prove the Russo’s don’t need the Avengers to dress up a scene, but here they seem to be laying it on thicker than they need to when their attention should be focused elsewhere.
Even with the occasional flourish in what feels like a hollow story, Holland persists in doing what he can. His only form of backup comes in the form of Ciara Bravo as Cherry’s sweetheart Emily. Even that comes with the issue of there being absolutely no spark between the two. It’s a crucial blow to the film, given that our hero’s actions and hair-brained plans revolve around someone he never clicks with, making you wonder why they’re together in the first place. It’s clear that the two are giving their best, but here it feels lost like so much else. In the end, Cherry is more like a pomegranate, crammed with seeds of ideas that go everywhere and never leave you satisfied. There’s no doubt that Holland has a serious and solid film due outside of the red and blue costume. This one just isn’t it.