Although it feels like the Russo brothers have been around forever, they had only directed a couple of features before being called up for Marvel duty, where they helmed four features, including the finale to the current Avengers arc, Avengers: Endgame.
During that time, Anthony and Joe have proven themselves to be almost superhuman in their ability to bring some of the world’s most loved comic book heroes to life.
Now they’ve decided to leave that world behind, to concentrate on the real one for a while, by helming this story of how a war affects the mental state of one its soldiers.
When Cherry (Tom Holland) falls for a girl in his class, he falls hard. Emily (Ciara Bravo) appears to be perfect in every way, and the two soon become inseparable. But when Emily announces that she is going to go to a school in Canada, Cherry takes the news badly.
With his world seemingly upside-down, he feels compelled to sign up for military service, in the hope of mending his broken heart. But once he arrives in Iraq, he soon realises that war is no place to get over a girl, and that all the experience wants is to break him, which it surely does.
When Cherry returns, with Emily waiting for him, he comes back a different man, scarred mentally from his part in the war, changing him, for the worse, forever.
Although the Russo bros have put their Marvel antics on the back burner, they did manage to bag themselves one of their superhero stars, the web-slinging Tom Holland, for the titular role. And certainly the talented Brit is able to spread his acting wings a little wider here, by delivering a solid performance as a war vet suffering from PTSD.
The brothers themselves also show a level of maturity and creativity in their vision for the film, which elevates it just above other films of this ilk, and therein lies the problem. The film, based on a novel, features a narrative that has become more and more commonplace on our screens; a young man who gets recruited to the army, and then faces the horrors of war that stay with him forever. And Cherry doesn’t deviate from that.
It would certainly have been more powerful if it was based on truth, but as it is, it falls into a somewhat generic formula. This means that not only does it offer audiences nothing they haven't already seen before, but more crucially, it adds nothing new to the mix.
There’s no doubting that Holland comes of age, showing a level of maturity beyond his years, before no doubt whipping on that Lycra for more Spidey antics. He’s ably supported by Bravo too, who also has to venture to some dark places with her character. But it still feels like the film needed more. It needed to push itself harder, and certainly delve deeper, because the film could have gone darker, and it does feel that it needed to, to make any kind of impact. And although it certainly needn’t have the scope of their previous superhero flicks, it could have benefitted from certainly going bigger for certain key scenes.
Cherry is proof, if any were needed, that the Russo brothers are more than just Marvel lackeys, with the ability to handle more adult material; It’s a tale well told, however just one possibly told one too many times like this before.