Daniel Nemet-Nejat
March 16, 2007 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Christian Bale stars in this meandering tale as Jim, a psychologically scarred Iraq War veteran who returns to his South Central L.A. roots. His initial attempts to secure his dream job with the LAPD thwarted, Jim spends his days cruising the mean streets with his buddy, Mike (Freddy Rodriguez, in a finely nuanced performance), coaxing Mike to avoid finding a job to placate his wife (Eva Longoria). Revealing Jim as both tender (in his scenes with his Mexican girlfriend) and dangerous (every other scene), Bale delivers a courageous performance, daring to disturb — and even repel — as a man at war with himself. Unfortunately, writer-director David Ayer (Training Day) shortchanges his star by offering only sketchy underpinnings for Jim’s psychosis and his fervent desire to join law enforcement. As a result, Jim’s breakdown in the final act feels hollow. EXTRAS A collection of seven trailers and deleted scenes are disposable. In his feature-length commentary, Ayer provides an insightful exploration of male friendship, but his obtuse comments about his protagonist — ”Jim’s crazy” — suggest that he doesn’t have any firmer grasp of the character than we do. B-

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