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Wick's Review

Created Sep 08, 2012 11:29AM PST • Edited Jan 13, 2022 05:41AM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Very Good 3.5

    We Americans are blessedly unfamiliar with the “most violent prisoner in Britain,” a nut called Charles Bronson. I’d of happily gone on that way had Tom Hardy not become an actor whose riveting performances demand that his every great role be viewed. And his feral performance as Charles Bronson is great indeed. Scary great.

    Bronson is not for the fainthearted. It’s a bravura movie about a psychopath, from the psychopath’s POV. Obscenely grandiose, hyper-violent, self-justifying and delusional, he’s a real-life monster whose story informs an artistically masterful movie. Not surprisingly, the movie’s been compared to another dystopian horror show – A Clockwork Orange.

    Nicolas Winding Refn’s showy-great filmmaking combined with Hardy’s Chaplinesque performance make Bronson a must-see for serious film buffs, Hardy fans and those interested in the infamous Bronson. Just be prepared for a viewing experience that’s as disquieting as it is riveting.

  3. Great 4.0

    Tom Hardy’s heavyweight performance is brutally feral. Think De Niro’s Cape Fear performance with some full-frontal nudity thrown in. But it’s also Chaplinesque and flamboyantly stagy. The combination creates one more monumental performance marking Hardy as the 21st Century Brando. Given that Bronson predated The Dark Knight Rises and Lawless by four years, it’s no surprise that he manhandled the roles of Bane and of Forrest Bondurant.

    Hardy is in virtually every scene, cackling and screaming and brutalizing everyone around him, who are many. The huge cast includes some 25 prison officers, who are joined by performers playing prisoners, screws1, nurses, guards, four topless dancers, a boxing crowd, two drag queens and a party guest named China Black. For real, that’s her name. China Black. Oh yeah, there’s two dozen stuntmen called out. Surprised it wasn’t more given all the melees.

    Out of that crowd, Amanda Burton jumped off the screen in her short time on it as Bronson’s Mother. She never stopped trying to protect him, dear thing.

    James Lance was also distinctive as an art teacher who tried to get too close to his most famous pupil. Whoops

    1 Screws apparently refers to mentally ill inmates.

  4. Male Stars Perfect 5.0
  5. Female Stars Great 4.0
  6. Female Costars Very Good 3.5
  7. Male Costars Great 4.0
  8. Very Good 3.5

    Nicolas Winding Refn’s highly stylized film reveals the humanity in Bronson and the sad cast of characters in his orbit, a monumental directorial achievement that seems a cross between Scorsese and Fellini. Notably, a significant chunk of the action takes place in Bronson’s operatic imagination, which gives the director license to thrill – cinematically speaking. He exercises it well.

    The film is a monument to film as much as anything. It’s full of repellant individuals who are spectacular to see on screen. IOW, it is art that can only be appreciated from the ultra-safe remove of cinema.

    Finally, the thanks at movie’s end include Bronson’s parents Eira and Mark Peterson, his cousin Lorraine and her husband Andy. Man, the hell they must’ve gone through…

  9. Direction Really Great 4.5
  10. Play Good 3.0
  11. Music Very Good 3.5
  12. Visuals Great 4.0
  13. Content
  14. Horrid 3.9

    Savage, vile and titillating add up to a horrid level of edginess. Bronson is depicted as a psychotic serial killer, a real life Hannibal Lecter, never mind that this stretches the truth about a guy who apparently never killed anyone. Still, he’s played as someone who kills wantonly, savagely and repeatedly.

    Almost as hard to stomach are the scenes of severe mental illness at the funny farm where Bronson is sent. For instance, one poor soul is shown getting shitfaced, literally.

    Finally, Hardy’s Bronson often fights prison guards while stripped down with his wanger wagging around. More shocking than the full frontal nudity is the fact that neither actor or subject ended up a soprano.

  15. Sex Titillating 2.3
  16. Violence Savage 4.5
  17. Rudeness Vile 5.0
  18. Surreal 2.5

    The movie apparently takes extreme liberties with the particulars of Bronson’s long and loony career. For instance, he hasn’t killed anyone, though not for lack of trying, while the movie shows him succeeding on multiple occasions.

    More troubling is the movie paying no mind to the countless bystanders hurt by his senseless violence.

    The man himself has no regrets according to the Daily Mail article Prison Thug Charles Bronson says he’s not ashamed. Its most powerful line – “The Prison Officers’ Association said Bronson had caused trauma to hard-working people who would never work again.” Indeed, they may not be artists like Bronson, but his victims deserve our respect even as we marvel at the artistic impression this movie gives of his life.

  19. Circumstantial Surreal 3.0
  20. Biological Supernatural 3.1
  21. Physical Glib 1.5


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