Tom Hardy delivers a memorable performance as the title character in Bronson, a unique drama that isn't as entertaining as it is oddly enthralling. The movie "examines" the life of Britain's most nefarious criminal Charles Bronson, who in real life has been moved between prisons 120 times and spent most of his adult life in solitary confinement (according to Wikipedia).
Bronson isn't as much a biopic as it is a depiction of the man's emotions. Charles Bronson, born Michael Gordon Peterson, is an incredibly violent criminal, who first was imprisoned for robbery but subsequently finds trouble wherever he can. He seems to like violence for violence's sake and picks fights with guards, prisoners and whoever else he can lay his hands on, seemingly relishing his confinement. Even when he is behaving, it appears the anger is just stewing and waiting to boil over.
Co-written by Brock Norman Brock (so his parents named him Brock Brock?) and director Nicolas Winding Refn, Bronson is an experience unlike any other. The movie at once tells a very summary form of his life in prison and explores the character on an emotional level, though it can be easily said that the film never really tells us what his life has been like or what drives him to do the things he does. Then again, that's what is interesting about the character: no one really knows what causes him to do the things he does.
Needless to say, Mr. Bronson is an interesting if not one-dimensional character. Hardy, who may be best known in the United States as the main bad guy in Star Trek: Nemesis, unleashes a growling, enraged performance that sizzles in every scene. Though there is little to like about Bronson the man, Hardy finds something in the character that makes you want to root for him - and get his ass kicked at the same time. It's an odd paradox that Hardy, and Refn and Brock Brock tap into extremely well.
To say that Bronson is a masterpiece would be going way too far; this isn't the movie I intend to watch again or would recommend to my average movie-going friends. And yet, there is something alluring about the production and Hardy's character that makes this a worthwhile drama, even if only a small subset of the population will appreciate it.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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