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Bronson More at IMDbPro »

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163 out of 215 people found the following review useful:

Doesn't glorify violence.

Author: pumatuna from United Kingdom
23 March 2009

Saw this last night, very impressed with the the performances and the structure of the film. Many comments say this glorifies violence whereas it does the opposite, I was left thinking what a waste of a life, if you want to spend the majority of your days sitting alone in a pigpen or drugged up in an asylum then this will inspire you as the means to get there. The audience I saw it with consisted mainly of males in their early 20s, I think they were disappointed because they had gone expecting a knockabout tongue in cheek film about one man's misguided fight against authority and they got a very dark film about the consequences of violence. Bronson didn't come out of this a hero at all.

Throughout the film the audience was silent,the only time there was a reaction was a scene at the beginning of the asylum sequence involving a act by a patient which seemed to provoke an embarrassed titter from some people because they didn't know how else to react. Neither was this film homophobic, I'm gay, I thought Bronson came across as tolerant of "alternative " lifestyles, the fight promoter,the art teacher and his uncle who seemed to live with a bunch of trannies were all accepted by him.He did call the guard he took hostage a "homo" but that was to intimidate him. Tom Hardy's performance was fantastic,vulnerable(seeing his mum out of prison),tough,confused(the reaction to the gay prisoner who fancies him), he was a character out of his time line, an eccentric that can't cope with normal society's rules.

Oh and I have no complaints about the size of his willy, what would your's do surrounded by a film crew?

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123 out of 158 people found the following review useful:

Director and Leading Man combine in an excellent expression of style.

Author: OwlCreekOccurrence from United Kingdom
13 March 2009

Tom Hardy and Nicholas Winding Refn are the stars of the show here, taking the story of 'Britain's most violent prisoner' and twisting it into an explosion of style.

Tom Hardy plays Michael Peterson who was initially incarcerated for 7 years after robbing a Post Office but this sentence turned into a 34 year stretch after numerous cases of violence in prison. Of these 34 years 30 were spent in solitary confinement. In his short period outside he assumed the fighting name of Charles Bronson after the Death Wish star. It is his alter ego which dominates the film.

Hardy is magnificent, prowling around people almost growling, a hulking, brooding, unpredictable beast who almost doesn't care what happens to him, preferring gaol where his is someone to the outside where he is no-one.

Many reviewers have been troubled by the lack of insight into the character of Bronson, however this is unsurprising as the story itself is narrated by Bronson himself, cutting back to a fantasy audience where he parades in varying levels of makeup, the star of his own show.

Refn handles this material with aplomb, filling it with tracks and pans, the occasional slice of slow motion, an interesting and varied colour palate and impeccable taste in music. Kubrick and A Clockwork Orange have been mentioned in almost every review, but there are clear influences of Bertolucci, perhaps mostly The Conformist in its detached style and use of colour.

By the time the film ends we are unsure who to feel sorry for, lost in a world of hard lines and constant violence. A very interesting film that marks out Hardy and Refn as exciting talents in modern cinema.

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98 out of 136 people found the following review useful:


Author: Kellie Stewart from United States
10 July 2009

I did not know about this movie, but I am so glad I watched it. This is the true story of Michael Patterson, a petty crook, that likes to raise hell while incarcerated. He is arrested for stealing and due to his rambunctious nature, he tends to spend a lot of time alone. Upon his release, he takes up bare fisted boxing at the suggestion of a man he met in jail. He needs a fighting name, so he chose Charles Bronson because it is a name people associate with vengeance. The main actor is amazing!!! He has many monologues and pulls you in with his insanity. The real Bronson is still incarcerated and has written a few books. He is in great physical shape, so he wrote one about how he keeps in shape in prison. He seems a bit split personality and he switched between them with ease. When the movie ended, I wanted more, so I went on line to learn more. This is truly an entertaining movie and I'm glad I was made aware of it.

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66 out of 81 people found the following review useful:

Journey into aggression

Author: moviemanMA from Massachusetts
8 October 2009

Bronson is the dramatized story of Charlie Bronson. Not the actor from Death Wish, The Great Escape, and The Dirty Dozen. This is the story of England's most violent prisoner. Born Michael Peterson, he quickly realized that he wanted to make a name for himself. It is unclear why he chose the path he did. He had a normal upbringing, a nice home, good parents, yet he just liked to fight. And he was good at it.

After robbing a post office for what can be only described as "chump change," he was given a seven year sentence. Since that sentencing in 1974, Bronson has seen a little over a few months as a free man. He is still in prison to this day.

What Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn gives us is a stylized version of one of the most bizarre and intoxicating stories I've seen in a long time. Bronson, played wonderfully by Tom Hardy, loves what he does. At least that what he wants us to believe. I was never really convinced that Bronson truly enjoyed what he did. Then again, I can't see the pleasure in pummeling prison guards, bare knuckle fighting, fighting dogs, and bringing others close to death. That said, it was something else to watch.

Hardy gives a rock solid performance. He fits the part both physically and mentally. He has the right edge to let us know how intelligent and hostile Charlie Bronson can be. It's hard to imagine playing someone as energized and mentally perturbed as Bronson, who gets his jollies from beating up innocent prison guards and inmates, but Hardy does just that in style. He never falters and gives 100 percent in every scene.

I can see a lot of similarities to A Clockwork Orange. It has similar accents, violent images, an insight into the criminal mind. Things very much associated with Kubrick's masterpiece. Still, Bronson offers something different. It's more theatrical, blending both the real world with a more dramatic and exaggerated story, showing Bronson as a prisoner, a performer, and storyteller.

Bronson is filled with stunning, startling images and a gives us a very original story, the likes of with we have seldom seen or will see. Charlie Bronson is a unique case of a man that nobody will ever truly understand. Whether you like the glorification of criminals or not, it's hard to deny that this film and the people involved doesn't offer great entertainment. I expect more from Hardy and Refn.

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53 out of 68 people found the following review useful:

An exceptional film

Author: chrismsawin from United States
12 October 2009

Bronson is one of the more interesting films I've had the pleasure of sitting through as of late. In the trailer (and movie poster), a quote can be seen where a reviewer called the film, "A Clockwork Orange for the 21st century." That quote is really spot-on. There is a big Clockwork Orange influence in this film. While Michael Peterson narrates the entire film, the film jumps between what actually happened and Peterson performing in front of an audience in a rather large theater. The make-up, the setting, and Hardy's performance are all very Clockwork Orange-esquire. Another film that came to mind was Snatch. The action sequences and a lot of the humor had a similar vibe to Guy Ritchie's film. Bronson is very much its own film, but shares the same beloved qualities of the films mentioned.

Bronson is what it is because of Tom Hardy's performance. He's guiding you through his life, his dreams, and his goals while you're with him the duration of the film, so it's only logical that he steals the show since he gets the most screen time. The fact that he doesn't waste any of it is something to be proud of though. He makes what would be a rather dismal story entertaining, exciting, and worth sitting through. Hardy's performance is the highlight of the film. There's really no questioning that.

Bronson was really a sleeper hit since its premise didn't interest me at all, but it wound up luring me in with its trailer. It's a very unorthodox type of film that isn't like many other films out there. Films like Bronson think outside the box of normal cinema and is the type of gem you'd hope to find whenever you journey out to your favorite theater. If you're looking for a film that is a knock-down-drag-out, eccentric, thrill-ride with a strong lead actor performance, then look no further. Bronson is exactly what you're looking for.

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39 out of 46 people found the following review useful:

Tom Hardy is a Ruthless 'Bronson'

Author: Clayton Davis ( from New Jersey
30 November 2009

In one of the most frightening and downright crazy lead turns of the year, Tom Hardy ignites the screen in the British independent film, Bronson. Based on the unbelievable true story and directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, the at times bizarre film tells the story of Michael Peterson, played by Hardy, who robs a post office in 1974, to only get 26 pounds out of the deal, and is sentenced to four years in prison. A four year stay has turned into a thirty-four year prison term, thirty of which has been spent in solitary confinement.

The man, which the British press calls 'the most violent prisoner in Britain," is one of the most complex, and highly disturbing characters to be depicted on screen this year. He always wanted to famous, Hardy states with such charisma at the opening of the film, but he can't sing, he can't dance, so he creates an alter ego during his time as a boxer prior to his prison sentence. Though the film is loosely based on the real man and his story, it doesn't matter, Refn treats the film with such artistic integrity and takes chances that most directors hope to accomplish in their careers. The narrative, though over-whelming at times, is unyielding in the manner in which it's told. For the most part however, Tom Hardy's gritty and aggressive performance will go down as one of the best kept secrets of 2009.

In watching the picture, the co-stars are nearly invisible as Hardy takes control of the screen and your attention. He enables the viewer to devote their time and energy with fear of severe consequences in not doing so. Hardy is an incredible talent and not sure if you'll see a more devoted actor to a character on film this year.

Refn's choice of music that fills the scenes with torment, discomfort, and sheer violence is a brilliance shown in his armor. Bronson is pure entertainment, and though it doesn't provide any moral or social significance in the acts of our lives, it's an admiral effort by British cinema.


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53 out of 74 people found the following review useful:

Shorter than a 30-year stretch in solitary

Author: Ali_Catterall from London, England
9 March 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

To be a performer, in British underworld slang, is to have a flair for violence; to be particularly skilled at putting on the frighteners. It's a term applied to James Fox's gangland enforcer in 'Performance' - and it could also be applied to Charles Bronson aka "Britain's most violent man" as portrayed by Tom Hardy in this bizarre and bracing character study.

We know Bronson, if at all, through tabloid headlines, chronicling his hostage-taking, rooftop protests and distinction as Britain's 'longest serving prisoner'. But even those who thought they knew Bronson might be surprised to learn that the man born Michael Peterson couldn't have had a more respectable start. Born into an upper-middle class family in Aberystwyth, his uncle was mayor and his parents ran the local Conservative club.

But the bright, gentle boy fell in with a bad lot; he became a bare-knuckle boxer; he robbed a post office for £26.18p. The bungled armed robbery put him in jail for seven years. Initially. For many, a lengthy prison stretch would be the undoing of life as they knew it. But it was the making of Bronson. In prison he discovered his calling: a gift for chaos.

The opening scene, a tableau which will be repeated over and over again, features him spattered in blood, feral and naked, playing human pinball with terrified prison warders until he's eventually overpowered; a bound Promethean. He travels from prison to prison as if on eternal vacation. Parkhust is "well worth a visit". At Wormwood Scrubs, "the staff ensure your stay is as memorable as possible". Hostage-taking is just a prescription against boredom; although the matter of whether prolonged incarceration exacerbated his behaviour, institutionalised him, is never addressed.

So far, so BritCrime. But anyone expecting another 'Rise Of The Footsoldier' - even 'McVicar' - will be in for a shock. Refn first came to prominence with the 'Pusher Trilogy', gritty and unflinching pseudo-documentaries focusing on the criminal underworld of not-so wonderful Copenhagen. Yet stylistically, Bronson is a universe away from those movies; it's far plainer to see the influence of DP Larry Smith, who also photographed Refn's hyper-real 'Fear X.'

Refn has delivered a weird and wonderful anti-biopic that explodes the conventions of the genre; a fittingly anarchic approach to linear progression of which the eponymous jailbird would surely approve. Most of these scenes could be shuffled around any which way, which is appropriate: when you've been banged up for as long as Bronson has (34 years, 30 of them in solitary confinement), time probably ceases to have much meaning.

With a classically-weighted score married to scenes of ultra-violence, this not only pays homage to Kubrick, but also to mavericks like Lindsay Anderson, Peter Greenaway and John Maybury ('Love Is The Devil') in its picaresque digressions and painterly aesthetics: a cinematic palate of reds and blacks. Hell colours. Compared with most of the wannabe bad-boys clogging up the arteries of British cinema, this is practically an art installation or contemporary performance piece.

And Charles Bronson, of course, is a first-rate performer: from that attention-grabbing Hollywood-purloined name (actually foisted on him by a boxing promoter) to his way with his fists - and striking artworks, which bear comparison with those of that other outsider-artist Daniel Johnston, and which sell for small fortunes, Bronson has worked as tirelessly as Max Clifford to keep his reputation intact and name in the papers for decades.

Refn even has him orating to us from an Edwardian music hall stage, and miming songs Dennis Potter-style while painted like a harlequin or moustache-twirling circus strongman. It's disturbing, and recalls Rupert Pupkin in 'The King Of Comedy' and Jonathan Pryce channeling Grock the clown in Trevor Griffiths' play 'Comedians'. Also, Freddie Starr in the infamous 2001 Channel 4 documentary 'Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster', in which Starr berated an empty auditorium and laid a wreath on-stage to symbolise 'British comedy's passing'.

Starr came across as desperately unhappy, but also largely self-deluding. Bronson is equally deluded and naive. A prison governor tells him, "You're ridiculous". He is. But really, he's just a little boy incarcerated inside endlessly replicating walls of muscle, a self-made prison of gristle and bone.

Hardy gets that, and his performance is astonishing; proper Stanislavski. Whether gazing into the distance with a thousand-yard stare, as if awaiting the muse of mayhem to tell him who to hit next, or gleefully cavorting in the theater of Bronson's imagination, the man's magnetic. 'Peep Show's' Matt King also lends sterling support as Bronson's comically seedy, upper-class boxing promoter Paul; a Withnail in the underworld sporting black leather gloves.

In a movie filled with startling, near-hallucinatory moments - drugged, drooling asylum inmates dancing woozily to The Pet Shop Boys; Bronson caged in a tiny, medieval-like restricting device, like something from a Francis Bacon - there is a truly remarkable scene toward the end that attempts to throw speculative light on the man's motivations, what really makes him tick. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the filmmakers suggest the answer lies in the creative impulse.

Having taken his prison art teacher hostage, Bronson demands to hear music. As Delibes' 'Lakmé' is piped over the Tannoy, a swooning naked Bronson, smeared in charcoal and grease, gently body paints Phil to resemble a living Magritte, with a bowler hat and apple in his mouth. Might Bronson's violence simply be misdirected creative passion? Is prison really an ersatz canvas, onto which he drips warders' blood like a sociopathic Jackson Pollock?

Well, alright. There's probably an argument for suggesting Bronson's nothing more than a pretentious thriller kitted out with the greatest hits of Classic FM. You could say the same of 'A Clockwork Orange.' Detractors might say it appeals to those who hold that violence is art and vice-versa but would flee from a street fight. Which would be to truly underestimate such a smart, funny and stylish film. Bronson appeals to the anti-authoritarian in us all.

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36 out of 41 people found the following review useful:

Not Hardy to sell!

Author: meeza ( from Miami, Fl
15 August 2010

As I was watching the first 30 minutes of the bio flick "Bronson", I thought it had a death wish or something. It does take a while to let this movie hit you. "Bronson" is based on the true story of who is called England's most notorious prisoner, that would be Michael Peterson better known by his alias Charlie Bronson. He has been incarcerated for 36 years, and 31 in solitary confinement. He never killed anyone, just was convicted of armed robbery a few times; but it was his feisty ways in the prisons and psych wards he did time in that got him all that time. Instead of trying to breakout, Bronson wanted to stay in prison but not exactly as a Solitary Man. He relished on physically brutalizing prison guards and other cellmates, not to mention taking a few as hostages. Bronson also had an artistic side that is also highlighted in Writer-Director's Nicolas Winding Refn movie. Refn's screenplay with Brock Norman Brock did escape the rules of viewer engagement from time to time with its extreme bizarreness, but somehow it boldly & bloody worked. Kudos goes to Refn for orchestrating those power-punching scenes where Charlie B. is refn so many up. Also, I must commend his direction of the comedic scenes of observing Charlie readapting to social civilization upon being released after his first "prison tour of duty". But "Bronson" would not be a brawny feature without the tour-de-performance of Tom Hardy. This Hardy Boy sure did not lack a punch with his dead-ringer Bronson transformation. It will be hard to knock out Hardy as a surefire grand actor for years to come. It is hard to fathom that this is the same actor who played The Cleaner in "Inception", two exemplary performances but diverse in so many ways. "Bronson" is worth putting in the time for no better reason just to witness Tom Hardy's extraordinaire hard work. So pass Go and matchup with "Bronson". ***** Excellent

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38 out of 50 people found the following review useful:

An excellent portrayal of Britain's most notorious prisoner.

Author: lmighten from Portugal
15 November 2009

This is a fantastic depiction of Charles Bronson, born Michael Peterson, Britain's most infamous and notorious prisoner. Director Nicholas Winding Refn invites us into Bronson's imagination, with parts of the film shot from the perspective of him being on stage in front of an adoring audience. The rest of the film is a dramatization of Bronson's life and times in prison.

Bronson was initially incarcerated for seven years for the robbery of a post office where he stole £26.18. However he has spent 34 years in prison and psychiatric wards so far, and is still there, spending 30 of them in solitary confinement. He has been involved in fighting, brawls and hostage taking which led to his increased sentence, and he seems to enjoy it. No lives have been lost.

This is an excellent performance from Tom Hardy –funny, thoroughly engaging and intense. He physically transformed himself for this role and obviously studied Bronson vigorously to accurately portray his mannerisms.

A thoroughly compelling film. A must see!

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39 out of 59 people found the following review useful:

Intense and brutal drama - makes Scum seem like a Disney movie. Jake the Muss would be proud.

Author: sharkies69 from Melbourne
9 June 2009

Saw this the other day at the Sydney Film Festival.

I didn't know much about Bronson before the film, other than what I read on Wikipedia and after walking out of the cinema, I can't say I know any more about the man other than his inability to conform and his reliance on violence and abuse to deal with most situations.

Unlike Korean movie Breathless which also screened at the festival and focused on violence but at least gave you an idea as to why the main character was so disturbed and messed up. Bronson doesn't give you any answers other than he was simply born that way, despite loving parents. His inability to deal with society starting as early as his school years.

What I did enjoy was Hardy's performance. Sure to be compared to Bana's Chopper (which I think was far better - but I am an Aussie and therefore biased) and also A Clockwork Orange. Hardy is impressive as the hulking and impulsive brute. He occasionally shows us Bronson's vulnerable side but mostly it's about the rage that drives him from one prison to another.

The prison system and Brit government are seemingly helpless to come up with solutions at dealing with Bronson's violence. The man himself also seems way beyond rehabilitation. That would be a big understatement.

I thought it was a shame that Bronson didn't get into boxing or some other type of physical sport like Rugby league when he was younger as it might have given him an outlet for his anger.

Anyways, it's ultimately pretty grim viewing but certainly packs a punch (no pun intended). I would have like to see Winding Refn offer us a little more insight into the man.

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