Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Movie Review: Bronson (2009)

"No one wanted to fight me, so I ended up fighting a dog. I won that one too -
but I had to kill the dog." - Charles Bronson (prisoner)
My dear dear cousin (who suggests some of the most asinine movies for me to watch. One in particular that stands out: 1985's World War II rooskie psychological mindfuck of a movie, Idi i Smotri aka Come and See) threw a movie my way this past weekend. When he talks up a movie, he does so in such bravado and confidence that it really convinces me that any movie he watches and suggests can possibly be the next classic. Well, he's done it this time.

One man. One movie. One two syllable, single word title: Bronson.

'Bronson' stars British born actor, Tom Hardy, and is a movie (released in the UK 03/13/09) that is about Britain's most violent (and expensive) prisoner, Mickey Peterson aka 'Charles Bronson'. The film takes you through his life behind bars and takes it even further as Bronson (Tom Hardy) narrates his own story. In the first 5 minutes of the movie, you can tell that this man is charmingly psychotic. The character (and the idea of the movie) is reminiscent of Chopper (starring Eric Bana; released in 2000) in that the story is based on a criminal who's charming personality can switch into rabid vicious manimal in .5 seconds. And you can't help but love it.

But the way the movie plays out is a bit different. Chopper (or Chup-pah as it is phonetically spelled according to the Austrians. Haha) is more or less like Australia's version of Reservoir Dogs, while 'Bronson' takes its tips from 'A Clockwork Orange' (I know it's such a cop out to mention Kubrick's famed movie in my review since it was mentioned in quotes on the movie's posters, but it REALLY is kind of like A Clockwork Orange!). The violence that is inflicted isn't particularly mind blowing, it is more or less the passion portrayed by Tom Hardy that is. Don't get me wrong, I'm not in any way undermining the level of ferocity that is thrust upon the prison guards, but the real face of fear is in Tom Hardy's sarcastic (and mustache donning) grin as he punches and bites his way through confinement. The man is an animal. And there is no way of understanding it. Not only is his personality intimidating, but his physical appearance and mannerisms are shocking. His image resembles something of an old time strongman from the turn of the century (not the milennium, the 1900's). Think of a bald Arthur Saxon. But, more about the movie and less about the actual man.

As mentioned before, the movie is narrated by Tom Hardy's raspy sounding Bronson character. Throughout the film, most of the violent scenes are shown while classical music (Verdi, Wagner, Bruckner etc.) is played. Much like A Clockwork Orange (see, I told you). Maybe it's to show the contrast between violence and beauty and trying to meld it together into this beautiful piece of art, which, is something that Bronson himself has acheived in real life (he sells his art from prison). Watching the violent scenes being exaggerated in slow motion is like watching a lion taking down a gazelle in the Sahara desert. It's majestic to watch more than it is a dismal part of life. I think the director (Nicolas Winding Refn) does a great job at portraying this to the audience. And as for our main anti-hero, Bronson; it is magnificently played by our underdog actor, Tom Hardy.

Tom Hardy has done a successful job at staying under the radar in the previous years by being cast in such movies as Star Trek: Nemesis, Blackhawk Down and RocknRolla. But you really wouldn't recognize him from those movies because this guy got so damn yolked up for this performance. Much like Bale losing over 60lbs. for The Machinist or Charlize Theron (probably) gaining that much weight for Monster. Though, unlike those movies, Tom Hardy captivates the audience in a more hilariously insane role. This movie is his 'Romper Stomper'. This is his 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest'. This is his 'Taxi Driver'. And I am a fan. Hardy plays Bronson with such grandiose and flamboyance that you're absolutely drawn in with his ability and talent. Hopefully, he has a good agent on his shoulder because I definitely would like to see him in more roles.

All in all, this movie was good and I thank my cousin for keeping his ears to the streets. It might be a bit drawn out and a bit awkward at some points throughout the movie, but Hardy does a good job at reeling you back in for more bloody ultra-violence (sans "the ol' in-out, in-out").

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