“You shouldn’t mess with boys who’re bigger than you.”
Cast: Tom Hardy, Kelly Adams and Luing Andrews
Bronson is kind of a mix between Fight Club and A Clockwork Orange, and even though I loved these two films, I didn’t like Bronson.
Tom Hardy plays Michael Peterson, the most notorious of all British prisoners. After being sentenced to 7 years behind bars for the armed robbery of a post office, continual violence toward other officers stretches his sentence to a massive 34 years, 30 of which he spent in solitary confinement.
When the film opens Michael is stood on a stage in front of an audience, occasionally looking directly down the camera at us. He tells us about his life and explains how he has always wanted to be famous, but having no talent when it comes to singing or dancing. He instead aimed to make a name for himself behind bars. This required him to build a reputation and therefore he turned to violence, becoming renown for his hardened criminal activities in prison. Through his alter ego Charlie Bronson, he never seems to have any remorse or emotion behind his attacks; it’s just straight up fighting.
I couldn’t really find much I liked about Bronson. While Tom Hardy was great at what he did, he even put on 3 stone of muscle just showing off his dedication to a role such as this, I couldn’t really see much dimension to his character. We never find out why Bronson was so violent and the severe lack of emotion on his behalf simply made the film all about the fighting, which I didn’t like. Bronson had a child with his wife before he went to prison, yet when he’s released on probation much later on he doesn’t even visit them.
It is easy to see that with the constant violence, Bronson is very much a male-targeted film. I was looking for a bit of character development with Michael but it was absent, perhaps they just wanted to portray this violent sociopath in the way in which he was known. They did try to spin it in a way, to make him out to be some sort of an artist, even employing similar methods of editing in the same way that A Clockwork Orange did. This stylised violence, which can also be seen as quite glorified, didn’t match up to the genius of Stanley Kubric’s vision though and took away any humanity that Bronson had left.
Bronson doesn’t fail to show you the true sadistic violence that Michael Peterson unleashed on his prison guards and other people he fought over the years. With a very choppy timeline and no dates being confirmed, we look at Peterson’s life in a scramble, marked only by violent acts and his sheer loneliness. This raw look at his life doesn’t allow for exploration on Bronson’s personality, thoughts or emotions, taking away any semblance of his remaining humanity. This film is a brutal look at his life that left him as a lonely, violent and sad man.
Star rating: 3/10
Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn.
Running time 92 minutes.