The Russo brothers have a very strange career trajectory. The high points are certainly good enough to maintain interest in whatever their next project might be. They started as an unremarkable feature directing mainly focused on mediocre comedy. Then they struck gold by directing a random sitcom pilot that would eventually become the brilliant Community ( at least for the first three seasons.) at the end of the third season Kevin Feige and Marvel came calling. The next period saw them as two of the main spearheads behind the MCU. This culminated in directing the biggest film of all time with Avengers Endgame. This resulted in them becoming two of the most in-demand creatives in Hollywood.
Since completing their work for Marvel they have spun this leverage ( rather, unfortunately) into some rather mediocre action movies. The brothers have production credits and Chadwick Bozeman’s 21 Bridges which is OK but decidedly unremarkable. Joe Russo wrote the screenplay for the marginally above average but by no means extraordinary Netflix movie Extraction. Now they have made their first step outside the action genre in several years.
Many have deemed this the brothers attempt to be taken seriously as filmmakers. Made for Apple TV Plus Cherry stars Tom Holland in the central role It desperately wants to be a modern spin on the decades-spanning crime epic following Holland as he goes from college drop out to Iraq veteran. It then dramatizes the central characters turn into crime dependent drug addiction. This subgenre is massively overstuffed with multiple contemporary offerings but can be done well. The problem is that the Russo brothers take on the material is fairly atrocious. The film had an infamous reputation from the moment it started screening thanks to a sequence where as part of the central character getting a rectal exam a camera is shoved up Tom Hollands bum. This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this disaster. At its best, it’s life-threateningly dull and at worst it’s a laughably embarrassing failure. The script bounces from laughably terrible edgelord provocations to embarrassingly basic addiction narratives at a moments notice. Its attempt at dramatising the horrors of war appears to be facilitated through someone who has played entirely too much Call of Duty. It has nothing new or interesting to say about any of the deadly serious themes it wants to approach. This would all be somewhat watchable and a somewhat fascinating failure the final edit was 90 to 100 minutes long. Unfortunately, it’s an incredibly patience-testing 140 minutes viewers will never get back. it’s hard to imagine even die-hard Tom Holland fans getting something out of this ( unless they are desperate to see that rectal exam scene.) The whole thing has the feel of a potentially legendary embarrassment. Holland will be fine. he can always go back to the well of additional Spiderman sequels if needed. Conversely, it would not be surprising if this killed the Russo brothers filmmaking potential outside the Marvel machine. There’s an argument for this being entirely deserved. Avoid at all costs.