About as peculiar of a movie you’ll find, Bronson is a highly unique, highly surreal biographical drama that is visually extreme and darkly comic. Bronson is brought to life on the big screen by the brilliant Nicolas Winding Refn who’s anticipated follow up to 2011’s cult hit Drive, Only God Forgives, is ready to hit theatres in May of 2013. Tom Hardy takes on the visceral and challenging role of press proclaimed “most violent prisoner in Britain,” Michael Gordon Peterson, who later changed his name to Charles Bronson with the help of his bare-knuckle boxing promoter. Bronson is a polarizing look into the life of Charles Bronson and the harsh conditions and frightening reality he lived in.
As a young adult, Michael Peterson (Hardy) had his head full of incompetent schemes and the need to make a name for himself. With a shoddy shotgun with the barrels sawed off, Peterson went off to achieve his dreams by robbing a post office. After being apprehended rather quickly, Peterson was sentenced to 7 years in prison. During that time, Peterson continued on his wayward path to stardom by physically assaulting other inmates and guards. Eventually serving 34 years in prison, 30 of which were in solitary confinement, quite possibly by choice, the young ambitious man that was Michael Peterson turned into a turmoil hardened man capable of anything.
Focusing just as much time on the undertones and artistic value of Charles Bronson as well as the anger and rebellion. Refn and Hardy transform what could have been a tale of cerebral violence into a multidimensional character the audience can sympathize with. Tom Hardy goes all out for Bronson. Adding roughly 40 pounds to his frame, every ounce of effort Hardy puts into this film pays dividends which haven’t been seen since his best outing in Stuart: A Life Backwards. Refn enhances the comedic quality of Hardy and displays it subtly, the way it should be dealt with alongside the bitter and at times upsetting themes throughout Bronson. Bronson may not be for everyone, it is unorthodox, elemental, and excessive. That being said, Bronson is a cinematic highlight containing a career defining performance from Hardy and is an early building block for one of best current directors Nicolas Winding Refn, all these qualities make Bronson a must see.
Bronson: 8.5 out of 10.