Saturday, June 11, 2011

Rewind - Bronson

Bronson's DVD slip promises one thing: that it will take a deep look into the man behind the madness of 'Charles Bronson', Britain's most violent prisoner. You'd think that this wouldn't be much of a hard feat, as most of the film is backed up by Bronson (played by Tom Hardy) being centre stage, telling a whole (imaginary) audience his story in the most narcissistic way. However, other than knowing that Bronson was a very violent man, who was a little on the eccentric side, and enjoyed being as theatrical as could be, we never quite get to know the man at all. And that is where Nicolas Winding Refn's stylish "A Clockwork Orange for the 21st Century" ultimately faulters.

Since we don't ever find out that much about the man behind the myth, the audience is subjected to watching violent escapades that could only be expected...there's nothing more than that. That's not to say that Bronson's story isn't interesting. He's a real character. He states that there isn't anything wonky about his upbringing - he was born into a nice, respectable middle-class family and didn't experience anything out of the ordinary. But there's just something in him that sets him off on a violent streak. He likes being evil. He even likes being in prison. And as time goes on, Bronson creates his own brand of violent. He's all about the theatricals and his interest in art brings out a different side to him, albeit a bad one. Other than that, this is just your run-of-the-mill biopic which feels the need to show important events rather than delving further into the character.

Even though the character's mindset is never fully explored, Tom Hardy gives a simply marvellous performance in this movie. Here he is completely transformed. I actually found it hard to believe that this was the same guy who got his breakthrough from his cheeky performance in Inception. Hardy is undeniably the star of this flick, and probably the only reason that could make it worth watching. He just pulls together the violent act so well, and has a ball being insane, but never loses his grasp on reality. He doesn't have any trouble anchoring the film by himself, either, as he is really the only character in the movie, just with some minor characters floating in and out every now and again. Hardy was completely dedicated to his character, and there are no recognizable similarities between he and his character, come to think of it. It's just a shame that his work went so unrecognized, because it was truly ground-breaking.

Bronson is also really well made. Nicolas Winding Refn has a different sort of style to everyone else. He has a lot of violence to work with in this film, and he tries to make every portion different from the other. His style is very theatrical, which fits the character very well. Also, backing most of the film up with a classical/opera style soundtrack is something which is very interesting. Refn is trying something new here...a sort of artsy style aggression-fest. It works, for the most part, but it really doesn't have the material to back it up. In the end, Bronson is a very disappointing movie. It's too slight and there's no narrative structure to it. But I would definitely like to see a few more movies made with this sort of style and Tom Hardy tackling more work like this. Because, hell, after seeing this, there is no doubt that he's going to become one of the best actors around.

THE VERDICT: Refn's style and Hardy's performance do not make Bronson the film it should have been, mainly because it's missing a vital narrative and something that isn't insanity or violence.

What I hoped for:

What I got:


  1. Nice review Stevee! I actually quite enjoyed Bronson, but you're right, it does have flaws. That said, the opening is just fantastic, and the music used throughout is superb. Of course, the movie wouldn't be half as good as it is without Tom Hardy. I can't wait to see how he tackles Bane.

  2. I thought Tom Hardy was brilliant and liked the visual and audio style in Bronson but I agree something was missing in the narrative. I also loved the extras on the DVD so if you get a chance to watch them I would. A well written review which I mostly agree with.

    Shine a Light Cinematography

  3. Hardy was great!! I enjoyed it, but yeah, it is lacking a narrative of sorts.

  4. Liam - I can't wait to see how Hardy tackles Bane. I imagine that he won't be anything short of fantastic!

    Chris - Damn! I sent the DVD back yesterday so I missed out on the special features. Oh well :/

    Andy - Hardy was amazing! I don't know why I didn't enjoy it...but the style was great.

  5. Nice. You can't expect explanations for everything. Offering explanations might also constrain the viewer. I want you to check out All Good Things, another film where character motivations aren't really explained. Would like to see your review on it.

  6. All Good Things hasn't come out here yet, but if it does, I'll be sure to check it out.

  7. The film wasn't compelling enough even though Hardy's performance is simply amazing. I wish this was better, and a lot more bad ass. Good Review!

  8. Bad assery was the biggest thing missing from this movie! Cheers!

  9. Yeah, i didn't like this one either. It seemed like a bad knockoff of A Clockrowrk orange. I fact this movie made me appreciate A Clockwork Orange a lot more


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