Monday, June 08, 2009


Film: Bronson (2009)
Dir: Nicolas Winding Refn
Rating: ****1/2 out of 5 stars

If you don't recognize the name Nicolas Winding Refn, you better sign into Netflix right now and add some of his movies to your queue. Especially the Pusher trilogy. Go ahead, I'll wait.....






Okay? Good. Refn's latest film Bronson is based on real-life criminal Charles Bronson (born Michael Gordon Peterson), who became known as the "most violent prisoner in Britain." The film is a slightly fictionalized account of his life in and out of the slammer. It is narrated by the titular character, whose sanity is questionable. The result is a brutal but darkly funny prison drama.

Peterson was raised by a respectable family with a pretty normal childhood. He decided at a young age that he needed to make a name for himself, and since he couldn't act or sing, he turned to crime. He became notorious for attacking prison guards and taking hostages, and consequently spending most of his days in solitary confinement. He is passed from prison to asylum to prison again, making him also one of Britain's most expensive inmates - a title he relishes. Even when he is released and takes up a career in bare-knuckle boxing (where he gets the nickname Charles Bronson), he still is drawn back to prison and his violent reputation.

Tom Hardy is a freaking BEAST in this movie. I still can't believe I'm watching the same guy who played Handsome Bob in Rocknrolla. It blows my mind. His transformation is easily as impressive as Eric Bana's in Chopper. And both characters are delightfully crazy, violent, and hysterical. Hardy is perfect in this film, and nobody could have played the role better.

Refn's filmmaking style is engaging as always, with bits of self-referentialism that provide the film with humor and intrigue. The script is great too, broaching the subject of violence being inherent - think A Clockwork Orange. In fact, Bronson has a lot of Kubrick influence, including unique depictions of violence, eccentric characters, and prevalent use of classical music. Charles is as much Alex DeLarge as he is Mark Read.

This is a brilliant little movie that should not be missed. Refn is killing me making me wait for his next entry, Valhalla Rising. If you don't share that sentiment, you are missing out.