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Bronson (2008)

March 19, 2010

8/10 Temper Tantrums

Bare-knuckle brawling with mentally unstable and physically jacked sociopaths? Sounds like a date!

Bronson is the story of one Michael Gordon Peterson, or as he prefers to be called, Charlie Bronson – no relation to the badass from Death Wish, it’s just the most hardcore “fighting name” his future boxing promoter could come up with – whose life goal ever since he was a wee ass-kicker was to become famous. So at the age of 22, Bronson decides to stick up a bank and, guess what, our guy gets locked up for seven years. Turns out, Bronson loves prison, he considers it his calling in life and he decides to stick around for an extra 27 (spending 30 out of the 34 years in solitary) on his quest to become England’s most dangerous prisoner.

And that’s about the long and short of it. What a guy.

I’m pretty sure this isn’t a verbatim account of his days in the big house, but for the most part this is a true story and Charlie Bronson is a real dude who’s still in prison punching the living daylights out of folks and doing his best not to drop the soap (not that he probably has anything to worry about in that department).

Now, I don’t know how many of you folks out there have seen the movie Chopper (if you haven’t, check it out, it’s the best thing Eric Bana’s ever done), but this is pretty much the exact same story, only with Brits instead of Aussies. It’s a one-man show featuring one mean – yet totally entertaining – mother effer raising hell from start to finish as he goes from prison to prison to prison to mental ward to freedom and then back to prison all because he can and director Nicolas Winding Refn does a bangup job of bringing his story to the screen just like that.

There’s no heroes in this movie, there’s just Bronson, and make no mistake, Bronson is the villain. Then again, villains are pretty damn fun to watch.

And being that it’s all about this one guy, a lot of the credit for why this movie works as well as it does goes to lead actor Tom Hardy. First off, this is what Hardy looked like back in ’02 for his role in Star Trek: Nemesis. The leather jumpsuit and goth makeup don’t help matters much, but the point is that he looks like a bitch. Dude wouldn’t last an hour upstate. But six years later and an ungodly amount of one-on-one time with a Shake Weight and a NordicTrack, this is what Hardy looks like as Charlie Bronson.

Definitely not a bitch. Homeboy jumped on the Christian Bale diet.

But despite how insane the total body morph is, it’s not what makes Hardy stand out, it’s that this kid freakin’ hurls himself into every inch of the role. He’s this wild concoction of an old-timey Queensbury Rules boxer mixed with Tyler Durden mixed with Big Chris, and good lord does he soak up the spotlight. Hardy bares all for this role in more ways than one and without him this thing would have been pretty damn dull. Hard to take your eyes off the guy even if to just watch him walk around like the Terminator going for an evening tea. Hope he at least got some kind of Best Up-And-Comer Award for this.

The only downtime in this movie is the brief stint in Bronson’s life where he actually finds himself free from prison for a couple months. The problem is that the moment he leaves, all I wanted was for him to go back to prison because that’s where he’s in his element, him being so “pro-prison” is a big reason why he’s so intriguing and that’s the one place where he totally lets loose. Thankfully, he comes to this same realization and ends up back in the slammer right quick, so things back on track fast enough.

Can also be a bit hard to catch what everyone’s actually saying at times thanks to the thick cockney accents, but whatever, easy to overlook. Swearing is a universal language.

Man, Bronson’s just a wild dude and Bronson‘s just a wild movie. While it touches on some Clockwork Orange themes like the cost and value of free will, this is pretty much an 90-minute character study of one out there fellow who made a satisfied life of constant, vicious nonconformity with a shit-eating grin on his face the whole damn time. It’s bloody, it’s in-your-face and it’s one of the more unusual biopics I’ve come across in recent memory, but it sure is a time.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. March 19, 2010 1:11 pm

    Like In the Loop, Bronson never appeared in my area, Redbox, DVD or anything else. Bummer.

  2. March 19, 2010 10:46 pm

    As do I… I can’t believe you gave this an 8, Aiden my man. I had this as a movie I was looking forward to… mentioned it on my first FILMS YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOU NEED TO SEE post when I picked Refn’s Pusher Trilogy. I was bummed on this flick though. The performance was great and it was shot beautifully but the story was weak.
    Did trip out though because the guy that played Bronson is the pretty boy in Daniel Craig’s gang in Layer Cake… what a transformation!

  3. March 21, 2010 7:46 am

    ‘Dude wouldn’t last an hour upstate.’
    another great sentence in a great AR review

    • March 21, 2010 3:20 pm

      It’s too bad they couldn’t put that on a DVD box.

  4. Branden permalink
    March 22, 2010 2:20 pm

    I did see this movie. I thought it was okay. I guess, I just really care about a criminal that relishes being a criminal for 90 minutes.

    • March 22, 2010 2:27 pm

      Haha, I actually think that’s exactly why I liked it so much. Nice to focus solely on the bad guy for once.


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