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The Essential Guide to Bristol
31 March 2009
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Bronson (18)

The ViewBristol Review

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Review byMatthew Turner12/03/2009

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 92 mins

Thrillingly directed with an extraordinary soundtrack, this is a thoroughly engaging (if admittedly violent) biopic with a performance from Tom Hardy that is nothing short of sensational.

What's it all about?
Not, in fact, a biopic of the Hollywood star, Bronson stars Tom Hardy as prisoner Michael Peterson, who renames himself Charles Bronson and attempts to forge himself a reputation as Britain's most violent criminal. Not really a biopic so much as a series of edited highlights, the film gives us brief glimpses of Bronson's childhood (beating up schoolkids and teachers alike) before a post office robbery gets him his first taste of prison at age 19.

Thereafter, Bronson is shunted from prison to prison, where he seems to actively enjoy repeated skirmishes with the guards. Further highlights include: a spell in an asylum, where he's kept heavily sedated until he tries to kill a fellow inmate (figuring he'll be sent back to prison); staging a rooftop protest at Broadmoor; a brief and largely incomprehensible period of release, where he falls in love with a younger woman and enjoys a career as a bareknuckle boxer; and his re-imprisonment 68 days later, whereupon he embarks on a new tactic of hostage-taking.

The Good
Tom Hardy has been a somewhat frustrating actor in the past (check out – or rather, don't – his bizarre accent in Confessions of a Sexual Nature or the mumbling weirdo he played in Cape Wrath), but he is simply sensational here, whether presenting his story as an imaginary one-man stage show, fighting off entire roomfuls of guards or staging a remarkably creative attack on his art teacher (James Lance).

The Great
Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn (who made the Pusher trilogy) orchestrates some terrific scenes, aided by an extraordinary soundtrack that includes Verdi, Wagner and Puccini alongside the likes of the Pet Shop Boys, New Order, The Walker Brothers and the theme from Dambusters.

Worth seeing?
If you can handle the almost constant (but not extreme) violence, Bronson is an exhilarating, brilliantly directed film with an unmissable central performance from Tom Hardy. Recommended.

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Bronson (18)
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