I am Charlie Bronson. I am Britain’s most violent prisoner
Oh Nicolas Winding Refn, where have you been all my life?
For the Danish-born director’s sixth feature film, he turned his attention to Britain’s ‘most violent inmate’, Charles Bronson (formerly Michael Peterson). A man to whom prison was a hotel, and a man who enjoyed conflict in a way that was deemed too ridiculous to be insane. He is certainly a character ripe for drama and Refn’s screenplay (along with co-writer Brock Norman Brock) weaves a fantastically absurd journey throughout this notorious criminal’s life.
Tasked with portraying this leviathan of modern British folklore, Tom Hardy steps up to the plate and delivers one of the greatest performances ever by an actor ever. Drawing comparisons with Eric Bana in “Chopper” and even Robert De Niro in “Raging Bull”, Hardy’s performance is a complete envelopment and encapsulation of a man who is totally unhinged and yet wholly charismatic. Not only transforming himself physically for the role, Hardy’s emotions are tossed around onscreen and within moments of him appearing he is no longer an actor.
When he says the quote I have used to head this review; “I am Charlie Bronson. I am Britain’s most violent prisoner”, he really means it.
Add onto that a virtuoso display of filmmaking prowess from Refn, and “Bronson” becomes an extraordinary film and one that comfortably sits amongst such esteemed company as “A Clockwork Orange”. It is deranged, dangerous, unstoppable and at times uncomfortable, but it is never unforgettable.
Nicolas Winding Refn, count yourself marked my son. On evidence of “Bronson”, I shall be watching you and yours.