Old 08-26-2009, 04:45 AM
Bronson (2009)


The story of Britain's most notorious prisoner...

Bronson is based on the true story of Michael Peterson, whose only skill seems to be an ability to beat the shit out of people. We follow him from a youth, going into prison, to a young man, going into prison, to an adult, going into prison. Then he does some other stuff, including a stint in a mental asylum, dating a stripper, becoming a paid street fighter, assuming the name Charles Bronson, only to eventually end up (yep) going to prison. I'd assumed he'd eventually get tired of being locked up, if only beating the shit out of prison guards didn't seem like so much fun to him.

Tom Hardy was perfectly convincing as the title maniac. At one point I had thought about a more "mainstream" (read: American remake) version of the film, and pictured Jason Stratham in the lead. I was later amused to read that he had been considered for the movie, but couldn't commit due to other projects. I felt lucky. Hardy becomes Charles Bronson... or to say the guy who calls himself Charles Bronson... Every spitting moment of enraged lunacy and self-imposed doom is played to the tee. He also apparently didn't mind stripping down for the camera. That is to say, I think his dick has its own agent for the amount of screen time it shared.

Even with solid acting, and a good story, the two main attractions in the film for me were the way it was shot, and the soundtrack. In fact, it was because of the movie using the song "Digital Versicolor" by Glass Candy that I had first heard of it. And indeed, the film successfully assured me that this song could not be used without an accompanying visual that looked like something out of season 4 of "Miami Vice". Many classical pieces from the likes of Wagner, Verdi and Strauss provide great contrast to the insanity unfolding on screen. Bold-colored lighting, open spaces, and minimal cuts were just three of the things I was appreciating. One great scene takes place during a co-ed dance at the asylum, and "It's a Sin" by Pet Shop Boys is used to perfect effect along with the director's utilization of the longshot and refusal to cut away.

Initially, I wasn't much of a fan. It's an off-putting movie, but not in its depiction of brutal violence, feces smearing, urinating on people, or the frequent appearance of its star's schlong. All of these things added realism and layers of emotion to the film. What put me off is that at times it seems to delve into the realm of the silly.

The film features a narrative structure that removes the fourth wall, with scenes where Bronson stands alone, talking to the camera, and other moments where he is performing on a theater stage in vaudeville makeup, providing commentary on the story. It intended to give insight into how he thinks, mainly showing how celebrity status was important to him, and to give a sense of his self-centric view of life. At the same time, for me it took away from the grim and grimy tone that the film succeeds so well at establishing. As mentioned earlier, it just seemed silly, and much of what was gained by these scenes, I felt would have been better served by letting the audience figure it out on their own.

In all, I found Bronson to be very effective, mainly on an artistic level. There was a lot of stylistic choices that I appreciated. As pure entertainment, many people might be disappointed. The film is not going to work for everyone, probably most. It was, though, because of the solid use of visuals and sound that made me take the movie for another spin. There was a lot that stuck with me after seeing Bronson, and it was all in the mood the film captured. So in turn, if you're a fan of atmospheric, visceral filmmaking, I'd give Bronson a go. If you are looking for a movie where some guy beats the hell out of people, I'd recommend something from the Death Wish franchise.


Last edited by The Postmaster General; 08-26-2009 at 10:21 PM..
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Old 08-31-2009, 01:30 AM
Death Wish 3 FTWWWW!!!!
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Old 08-31-2009, 04:33 AM
I bought the DVD a few weeks back, and absolutely loved it at the cinema. It's amazing to see the breakthrough of a talent, and Tom Hardy - next seen in Christopher Nolan's Inception - certainly is one of the next bright young things.

His performance, like the film, is compared favourably to Eric Bana and Chopper. I can see the resemblance - and love both performances.

I would recommend this film without hesitation.

Great review, Bubba.
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Old 08-31-2009, 11:32 AM
Thanks Reigh - I actually want to update this review because since seeing the movie, I've seen interviews with Hardy, and holy smokes, I had no idea. That transformation is simply insane. He is all but unrecognizable as Bronson.
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