Cherry Isn’t a Bad Movie, It Just Isn’t a Great One Either

Dept. of Good Not Great


Cherry, the new feature film from the Russos (the brothers, plus sister Angela Russo-Otstot who co-wrote the screenplay) is out on Apple TV+ this Friday and after having spent 141 minutes with Tom Holland and Ciara Bravo, I can tell you that this isn’t a bad movie. It’s just not a great one either.

In its own press release, Apple TV+ describes Cherry as “a darkly humorous, unflinching coming-of-age story of a man on a universal quest for purpose and human connection.” Darkly humorous is not how I would describe this movie.


Cherry, based on the novel of the same name by Nico Walker, tells the story of Tom Holland’s unnamed lead as he goes from university dropout to army medic, to PTSD suffering war vet, to junkie, and finally bank robber. Actually, Cherry starts off with Tom Holland the bank robber first, before jumping back to show the audience where it all began.

The story is pretty straight forward, but it feels like the Russos spend too much time telling it all to you anyway. The journey that Tom Holland’s character takes from hopeful teen to desperate drug addict is so familiar in a post Iraq/Iran war world that it almost feels like they could have jumped right to the end and we wouldn’t have really missed anything. Cherry tells the story well, but telling a story well just isn’t enough anymore. The path Tom Holland’s character takes never truly feels inevitable, just familiar.

As I stood there holding a gun, taking her in, something overtook me. Like a kind of sadness. It’s as if I’d always known that this was how things were supposed to end.


There’s a bit that runs through the movie that feels like it could have been more. Throughout, it feels like the Russos are trying to show the “system” as a faceless, uncaring machine. When Tom Holland walks into a bank early on in the movie, the tellers are shot in shadow, as if to say the humanity of the people behind the desk matters as little to us and Tom Holland as we are to them. They are faceless drones working for a faceless, heartless bank, trying to take more of what little the character already has. 

The banks are given insulting names, like Credit None, Shitty Bank, and Bank Fucks America. The doctor that first prescribes Tom Holland with OxyContin and sends him spiralling down into addiction is named Dr. Whomever.

The bit, however, never really goes beyond being an on screen gag. It’s funny if you see it, doesn’t matter if you don’t. What could have been a serious critique of the American banking system and its predatory practices, or the American medical fraternity and it’s own financial addiction to the opioid industry, is never really elevated to the kind of criticism that Fight Club did with its commentary on commercialism.


The Russos also try and do too much. Cherry is filled with title cards, breaking down the chapters in the character’s journey, which feels like an unnecessary addition when you have Tom Holland himself narrating the story to you. Which is made all the more confusing when Tom Holland then breaks the fourth wall and talks directly to the audience. This also only happens a couple of times in the first half of the movie and isn’t really a trope that they lean into. There’s also shifting aspect ratios.

Cherry isn’t a bad film. But Cherry isn’t a great film either. Tom Holland is fantastic, showing off the darker range of his acting abilities that the Spider-Man franchise wouldn’t dare dream to touch.

Stylistically you can’t fault Cherry. A lot of it is beautifully shot, with plenty of slow motion, and colour changes, along with interesting uncommon camera blocking and shot compositions. If you’re a filmmaker or a photographer, then Cherry will give you a lot of really interesting ways to frame your subject. Whether or not it serves the story is a little hard to say.

Cherry is out on Apple TV+ on Friday, March 12, 2021.
(UPDATE: Cherry is not available on Apple TV+ in Malaysia or Singapore.)

Bahir likes to review movies because he can watch them at special screenings and not have to interact with large groups of people who may not agree with his idea of what a movie going experience is. Bahir likes jazz, documentaries, Ken Burns, and summer blockbuster movies. He really hopes that the HBO MAX Green Lantern series will help the character be cool again. Also don’t get him started on Jason Momoa’s Aquaman (#NotMyArthurCurry).

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