Sunday, 25 July 2010

Film Review: BRONSON (2008)

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Running time: 89 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 18

UK release date: 13th March 2009

Watched on Sky+ Sunday 25th July 2010.


Most people have heard of the actor Charles Bronson, but few have heard of the notorious violent prisoner of the same name. The film is based on the true story of the man who has made his name in the English prison system as the most violent prisoner in Britain. Now, I have heard of Charles Bronson, the prisoner, and so was intrigued to see this film about him.

His real name is Michael Peterson; he was born in Luton, just north of London. He didn’t have a deprived childhood, he was well loved by his parents but there was obviously something different about this boy. From fighting with other boys he progressed to assaulting his teachers. He eventually grew old enough to be put in prison for holding up a Post Office; his sentence, seven years. Once inside he soon established himself as an extremely dangerous man. As such he was moved around from prison to prison until he eventually ends up in a mental asylum. Here they can keep him drugged but he still finds a way to fight back. Eventually he is declared sane and released. He goes about making a career as a bare knuckle prize fighter, which is where he got his fighting name, Charles Bronson. This, however, is short lived and it’s not long before he’s back inside again. But this time there are signs he is starting to reform… or is there? Up to the release of the film he had spent 34 years in prison, 30 years of which had been in solitary confinement. I’ll leave you hanging there; don’t want to give too much away.

A film that was obviously made on a small budget, but one that is quite entertaining in a strange and bizarre way. The story is told from Bronson’s point of view and as such has a bit of an art house feel about it in places. There’s a pretty good soundtrack with a few songs the audience might recognise. A real power-house performance from Tom Hardy as Charles Bronson/Michael Peterson. I must also give an honourable mention to Matt King who played Paul.

As I’ve already said, the film has an art house feel to it, lots of very short pieces put together in places, but then longer scenes that give more narrative. It’s a very interesting film to watch, always interesting, partly because the character of Bronson is so unpredictable. Thanks to the great performance of Tom Hardy and thanks to a great script. At times it is very violent and the language is very strong in places. Over all, it’s kind of bizarre, but I must say, recommended.

My score: 7.4/10

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