Armageddon Time (2022)—Review

James Gray’s latest film, Armageddon Time (2022), is one that has completely flown under a lot of people’s radars. Personally, I had no idea this movie was coming until I saw a trailer for it in front of Don’t Worry Darling (2022) back in September. That said, as soon as I saw the trailer and the cast of this film, Armageddon Time shot up on my must watch list. That said, anticipation does not make the movie, so does it meet the high expectations that I had? While Armageddon Time does not quite meet the levels of emotional poignancy that Gray sought to portray in this semi-autobiographical drama, the film does excel as a collection of award worthy performances in an extremely intimate story that shows the regrets of youth.

Banks Repeta and Anthony Hopkins in Armageddon Time (2022). Via Focus Features

Inspired by Gray’s childhood growing up in 1980’s New York, Armageddon Time follows Paul Graff (played by Banks Repeta), a Jewish-American sixth grader, who befriends a rebellious African American student named Johnny (played by Jaylin Webb). While struggling with the expectations from his parents (played by Jeremy Strong and Anne Hathaway), Paul must learn from his Grandfather’s (played by Sir Anthony Hopkins) past in order to face his sudden confrontation with privilege and discrimination.

This film sets out to tackle a lot big and relevant social issues that plagued Gray’s youth and are still right in the cultural forefront. As just a societal commentary, Armageddon Time starts off strong but slowly peters out by the end, and so it is entirely understandable that people are coming out of this film unsatisfied as the ending is not the happy, uplifting conclusion that you may expect. However, I would contend that the shallowness was intentional as Gray’s entire vision of this film is inequality viewed and told through the eyes of this incredibly privileged pre-teen. With that vision for this story, Gray definitely achieves what he strives to tell, but it does lead the film being led by an incredibly flawed and hard to root for lead in the Paul character. Seeing as this character is inspired by James Gray, this unlikability factor to Paul is likely due to how he views his childhood self and his lack of action in the face of discrimination against the African American community. So while several audiences are coming away from this film annoyed with the lead child character and the ending of this film, I actually really appreciate and relate to how Gray pours out his regret and disgust with himself on screen.

Jeremy Strong and Anne Hathaway in Armageddon Time (2022). Via Focus Features

While the overall message and story of this film is dividing audiences, I think anyone you ask will say that the performances in this film are top notch. Both child leads, Banks Repeta and Jaylin Webb, absolutely carry the emotional weight necessary for this film. Both boys deliver incredible nuance and emotion, and even though both of their characters are incredibly flawed, you walk away from this film incredibly excited to see them and their careers grow. The big standouts in this film are clearly in their Oscar and Emmy winning co-stars Anthony Hopkins, Anne Hathaway, and Jeremy Strong. All of these incredible powerhouses fill the film with their presence even with their limited screen time. The raw emotion of Hathaway and Strong are palpable throughout as they both show a vast range of sides to their multi-faceted characters. Strong, in particular, has a scene in this film that has continued to stick with me even 24 hours after walking out of the theater and, likely, will forever alter how I view him as a performer. The big takeaway that everyone is walking out with is how incredible Sir Anthony Hopkins is (as he always is). While his role is brief, he is scattered throughout the film and his presence is always felt—he is the heartbeat of this film. Without Hopkins’ performance, all of the other great aspects of this film don’t come together. I would not be surprised if Armageddon Time is fills the Best Supporting Actor/Actress categories at the upcoming Oscars.

While the film’s story and overall taste it’s leaving in people’s mouths has been understandably divisive, I must say that I loved James Gray’s Armageddon Time. I think Gray’s auteur vision of poignant childhood regret is beautifully executed and it is very much thanks to the all-star display of acting talent in this film. I would highly recommend this film to all (particularly as a double-feature to Till (2022)) and sincerely hope that audiences give this film a chance.

Rating: 4 out of 5.


Armageddon Time is rated R for language and some drug use involving minors.

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