Paul Cook 13/07/2009
Bronson is one of only a handful of films directed by Danish-born writer/director Nicolas Winding Refn and is based on Britain's notoriously violent prisoner Charles Bronson. Released on DVD and Blu-Ray last Monday it's one of the better British hard-man films around.
There are two aspects of this biopic that are strikingly memorable and that could well achieve Bronson a cult-film status. First is Tom Hardy's outstandingly visceral performance as the hyper-violent Bronson and second is Refn's successful experimentation with a plethora of styles. Everything from documentary to psychological thriller conveys the story of Bronson's rise to fame as Britain's most violent criminal with surreal art-house stage-performance thrown in to shake the whole thing up.
It is a film that for these two qualities alone makes it worth seeing and one of the most uncomfortable cinematic experiences in years. That shocked yet intrigued feeling that A Clockwork Orange draws out of you is very much at work in this film. An ever so slight cynicism about the film with it's fairly unheard of cast and crew and London violent-gangster stigma is immediately wiped out by the intense, artistic cinematography and utterly mesmerising performance from Tom Hardy.
The film does however lack a considered plot structure with the chronological events of Charles Bronson's life intercut with the bizarre pieces to camera from Bronson himself as the only form of storytelling. Certain parts of the plot are also allegedly for entertainment purposes only. For a prisoner who has spent thirty out of his thirty four years in prison in solitary confinement the story is obviously embellished a little. Furthermore the supporting cast is a little lack lustre including a very strange turn from Peep Show's Matt King (Super Hans).
Bronson is however a highly entertaining and interesting cinematic experience fusing punchy blockbuster violence with artistic and experimental approaches to filmmaking. It boasts one of the best British performances in a long while and has bags of cult film potential.