At first glance, a film based on the life of Britain’s most notorious and violent prisoner doesn’t sound that interesting. A man who bungled a post office robbery and got sentenced to seven years, which then escalated into a further twenty seven years thanks to all manners of violent behaviour towards the screws, inmates and tealadies across nearly every single renowned British prison after extensive transfers may make you turn the other direction, especially if you know that Bronson has spent thirty of these years in solitary confinement. I wouldn’t blame you for feeling you could get bored very easily.

But perhaps then, you should be told that a) this really isn’t what you would expect and b) the lead role is fantastically well played. Brought to us by Dutch director, Nicolas Winding Refn, and starring Tom Hardy, this is a film that is more about the man himself rather than what he did. If anything, and it even says so on the cover of the dvd/blu ray, that,  it’s “A Clockwork Orange for the 21st Century“. A brave statement to sell your movie, but it’s really not far off.

What you’ll notice is that Refn’s vision is very much in the style of Kubrick here. The use of strong colours, the wide sets, surreal actions topped with classical music throughout, textbook pieces that made Clockwork what it was. Mimicry or homage? You shouldn’t think about that, your focus should be on Tom Hardy, delivering a performance that should see him land a few more gigs that don’t just pay for a loaf of bread. Bronson was insane, resembled a circus strongman, had the verocity of a pitbull yet was a distinguished gentleman and considered himself an artist, all of which Hardy’s captured effortlessly. He gives us a narrative throughout, with surreal breaks of Bronson as a host, giving his story to an audience in a theatre, and also breaking down that fourth wall. He tells us his life as Michael Petersen, before it was decided with his fighting agent that he should change his name to reflect his hard man mentality, thus Charles Bronson was born.

It’s violent, yes, that’s expected but it’s also very comical (I found whilst watching it that he seems to resemble my future father in law. I should be worried by this shouldn’t I?), Bronson socialising with others outside of prison is a sight to see, and by rights, I should never laugh at a disco at a mental institute again. Again, the host scenes carry a comical nature with it, as it’s funny to see a man as big as this almost fall into a pantomime territory.

Maybe not a keeper at any means, but Bronson is definitely worth a watch, if you like your Kubrick, or even Greenaway films, or you fancy a bit of the ole’ ultraviolence. You can do a lot worse.

Bronson gets 4 Punishing Blows To The Left Of Your Temple Out Of 5.

2 Responses to “Bronson”

  1. Good film but too much cock.

  2. thethoughtherder Says:

    I didn’t realise that they had purposely drew comparison s with clockwork orange but having watched the movie the other night is was something that struck me. I think you are right about Hardy’s portrayal of Bronson, brilliantly done. At some points I almost felt that the movie in general wasn’t in keeping with his acting as he was a cut above. Compare him in this to his character in Rock n Rolla and I think you see he has the slick crim and the nutter down cold. I think what the movie accomplisjhed most though was to accurately transport the audience back to Britain in the 70’s and 80’s, the movie was really well shot in that respect.
    And don’t worry I laughed at the disco scene too!

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