Bronson (Review)

2009

92 min

United Kingdom

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

Writer: Nicolas Winding Refn, Brock Norman Brock

Stars: Tom Hardy, Kelly Adams, Luing Andrews

Release Date: October, 2008 (London Film Festival) / March 13, 2009 (United Kingdom)


Tom Hardy is a wall of hard-hitting bricks in this never-dull and ever-stylish biopic. If you can stomach the punch, you really should sit down to Bronson.

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Before Nicholas Winding Refn put himself on the American map with 2011's Drive he already had a name for himself in the UK with Bronson. This is the account of Britain's most notorious (and, as it were, most expensive) prisoner. Michael Peterson has always had a knack for getting into fights. After an armed robbery lands him in prison this tendency causes him to be moved from one jailhouse to another as he rocks inmates and guards alike.

This biographical portrayal is first and foremost an artful telling of events as compared to frequent dry discoveries the genre is known for. This is primarily due to Tom Hardy's downright electrifying central performance as the man who would become known for his fighting name, Charles Bronson. The sharp script is given a most charismatic mouthpiece in Hardy, who many will have seen play Bane in The Dark Knight Rises. He address the audience as he recounts the episodes of his life thus far.

The mix-tape worthy soundtrack, attention-grabbing compostions (a scene where Bronson is on tea duty in prison would make Wes Anderson take notes) and frequent humor may seem like it does the whole affair some injustice. Admittedly, at times it does feel like a case of style over substance. But there is so much to take in through Hardy's portrayal that you're permitted to see the man behind the name... and behind his real name.

All my life I wanted to be famous. But I couldn’t sing, couldn’t act. I was running out of options.
— Michael Gordon Peterson AKA Charles Bronson