Don’t get me wrong. Cherry was a very well-done film that authentically portrays the cluster f*** of the military. And it should — the screenplay was based on a semi-autobiographical novel written by Nico Walker, who served as an Army medic in Iraq from 2005-2006. After over 250 combat missions, Walker suffered from undiagnosed PTSD, became addicted to heroin, robbed banks to get money for his addiction before he was arrested and sentenced to eleven years in prison for his crimes.
While in jail, he wrote his novel, Cherry; both it and the film portray the horrors of war and addiction. Most veterans I’ve spoken to don’t love watching war films, which can be very triggering. A friend of mine was killed in her humvee during an IED attack, making caravan attack scenes extremely painful for me to watch. I can’t imagine what those scenes are like for the men and women who have lived through caravan attacks.
And Cherry doesn’t pull any punches.
The film does not glamorize or romanticize the military experience, which is refreshing. From duck walks at MEPS to boot camp shenanigans to the absolute carelessness afforded to service members overseas to the violence of war and the inevitability of addiction and depression as a result of untreated trauma, Cherry gets it right.
I’m just not sure who wants to watch it. Maybe veterans who need to see themselves and their pain reflected in art, but I’d argue it’s more important for our government leaders to confront the reality of the wars they engage in. Maybe teens interested in enlisting should watch before they sign up to be a hero.
No one I know feels like a hero.
Superbly directed by Anthony and Joe Russo (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Endgame), written by Angela Russo-Otstot (The Shield, V) and Jessica Goldberg (The Path), and starring Tom Holland (currently playing Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe), Cherry was released in theaters on Feb. 26, 2021 and premiered digitally on Apple TV+ on March 12, 2021.