Chopper (2000) Poster

(2000)

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5/10
A difficult film to like, let alone classify
Leofwine_draca30 December 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Humour, strong violence and an art-house style plot line (weaving flashbacks with present scenes, fantasy and other memories) make up this cult Australian hit of a movie which helped bring comedian Eric Bana (BLACK HAWK DOWN) to worldwide fame. This ruthless, darkly-written tale charts the ups and downs of Bana's life as "Chopper", a notorious criminal who kills people in cold blood and has his own ears cut off in one gruesome scene.

My sole problem with the film is that it feels a bit unfocused – it's more of a portrait than a story and doesn't really progress anywhere. Characterisation is also limited, and it's mainly Bana's winning performance that livens things up. Saying this, the humour comes thick and fast, there are some great one-liners, and realism is top-notch. It's just a pretty difficult film to like or classify.
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A well directed and written film with a balanced view and a great performance from Bana
bob the moo16 May 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Mark Brandon Read, aka Chopper, is a small-time criminal who is violent and unpredictable. During one of his many stays in prison he is betrayed by his friend Jimmy – who stabs him repeatedly in an effort to kill him for a bounty. When Jimmy fails, he claims Chopper attacked him and Chopper does the time while Jimmy gets free. Released years later Chopper leaves prison still his jovial, friendly, brutal, violent and unpredictable self.

In this review I will not even bother getting into a debate over whether or not it is right or not to make a bigger celebrity of Chopper than he already is – the book is out, the film is made and it's a moot point. The film does a good job of being reasonably balanced – it shows Chopper's action in such a light that it is hard not to be disgusted by him and his sheer disregard for human life. There is of course an element of the film liking him, but in fairness that may be the truth – he may have been the nice bloke at heart that the film presents him as; most of us will know people from clubs and pubs who are salt of the earth and will call you 'mate' all the time until they take offence at any little thing then they'll be fighting before you know it. The film is amusing and shocking in equal turns and manages to be engaging even if the plot is more of a character study than a plot.

In this regard it really works, because the film captures a great deal of his character and not just his actions – he must be a horror to know and it is this that stops it really glamorising him. The script is really well done and it allows us to feel a strong fear and dislike for this man without ever being turned off him to the point that we stop watching or stop being interesting. Bana is a big part of this and he is really good in one of his earliest roles on film. He manages to make this man both a monster and charming in a blokey sort of way, but he also brings out the inner fear and loneliness that Chopper has – and the sheer basic immaturity that drives him.

This is not glamorisation, this is a fair look at a man who few of us would want to ever meet. The support cast are also good but it is Bana's film and he shows why Hollywood picked him up in the first place.

Director Dominik may be a little taken by his subject, but he makes it balanced and actually presents a character rather than just a hyperkenitic comedy killer that Chopper could have become in someone else's hands. Certainly if this had been a Hollywood film it would have made Chopper much more of an anti-hero and would have dropped the character a bit in favour of stuff that targets the Tarantino teenage 'killer-cool' audience. He does add a great deal of style as well and there are plenty of scenes here that are fun and stylishly directed – however his biggest contribution is bringing out the bad side of Chopper rather than just making him a killer who is funny.

Overall I wasn't sure what to expect from this – I'm not generally morbid or interested in people who are just thugs, even well known thugs, but I did enjoy this film. The direction is cool and stylish but the script brings out a Chopper who is unpredictable, childish, lonely, insecure and brutally violent – if you met him in a pub you would run if you had any sense. Bana takes this and gives a great performance to keep him charming but never hide the fact that he is a dangerous and thoroughly unpleasant man.
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9/10
Chopper
jboothmillard8 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
The opening disclaimer says that the story has been tampered with, so it is not a biography, I don't mind either way, it is a great Australian film. Basically the film tells the intense story of legendary criminal Mark Brandon 'Chopper' Read (Hulk's Eric Bana) sentenced to prison for 16 and a half years, and in that time making more enemies than admirers. After his own childhood friend Jimmy Loughnan (Simon Lyndon) stabs him, to be transferred out of H Division, he cut his own ears off, gaining recognition, and eventually release. Being out of prison, he visits both friends and old enemies, with not much difference between the two, and reuniting with former girlfriend Tanya (Kate Beahan), who he suspects of being "involved" with someone. He is killing pretty much anyone in his way and on his tail, this only results on being sent back to prison, where he writes a best selling book and a television interview. Also starring David Field as Keithy George, Daniel Wyllie as Bluey, Bill Young as Detective Downie, Vince Colosimo as Neville Bartos and Kenny Graham as Keith Read. It should be mentioned that the real Mark Brandon Read suggested Bana, then a stand-up comedian, Bana lived with Read for two weeks to get a better understanding of how to play him, and he spent two weeks eating junk food to gain the extra weight needed, extraordinary details to make a film happen. Bana is brilliant as the film's protagonist, he actually makes the character quite likable, even with the ultra-violent outbursts, which by the way make this film even more watchable. Very good!
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6/10
Choppy
wes-connors5 March 2013
In an Australian prison, knife-wielding Eric Bana (as Mark "Chopper" Brandon Read) slashes a fellow prisoner in the jugular. Possibly, this is because Mr. Bana does not like his victim's hair. He has covered bald spots with shoe polish. The man bleeds to death. Soon thereafter, Bana's boyhood pal and jail buddy Simon Lyndon (as James "Jimmy" Richard Loughnan) repeatedly stabs Bana. This scene appears to symbolically "copulate" Bana and Mr. Lyndon, who has very nice hair. Bana survives penetration super-hero-style and then chops off his ears to get out of maximum security. Out of jail, he hooks up with old acquaintances and decides to shoot some of them. He pulls out both his pistol and his penis. All of this is nicely acted. The character "Chopper" comes across well, but the film manages to say very little intriguing about him.

****** Chopper (8/3/00) Andrew Dominik ~ Eric Bana, Simon Lyndon, David Field, Daniel Wyllie
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7/10
Eric Bana Is Gonna Be A Megastar
Theo Robertson8 May 2004
Eric Bana is an Aussie ? I knew this before I saw BLACK HAWK DOWN . If I hadn`t I would have been totally convinced this guy was from the Southern states , Bana`s deep south accent was absolutely flawless in that movie unlike some of the British cast members . Since then he`s appeared in the blockbuster release of THE INCREDIBLE HULK ( Which I haven`t seen yet ) and he`ll be playing a major role in up coming mega-blockbuster TROY . After seeing him as Mark Read in CHOPPER I was totally struck by something - Eric Bana is gonna be a megastar very soon

Watching CHOPPER is somewhat like watching the young Deniro in TAXI DRIVER Bana`s performance more than makes up for the flaws in the movie , he`s not an actor playing a character - He is that character , he is Mark " Chopper " Read . Chopper puts on weight so Bana puts on weight , and I`m loathe to ask what Bana did in order to er ... how can I put it , that scene in the bar ! Did Mr Bana get a surgical extension ? That no doubt explains the title of the movie

Like I said there are some flaws to this movie which revolves around Chopper Read starting off as violent criminal to becoming best selling author ( A sort of Aussie Jimmy Boyle ) but his writing is only referred to within the last 10 minutes of the movie and I`m none the wiser as to what his books are about . One thing`s for sure but - His bestsellers can`t be half as bad as anything JK Rowling has scribbled . I also liked the poem sequence at the end though I guess just as many people will loathe it as like it

I do admire the producers honesty in pointing out that much of this screenplay is invented and I do wish more producers would do this , a pity that those of us such as myself who had never heard of Chopper Read have no idea what bits are true and what bits are fiction though . I guess that the way Chopper is written and played our sympathies should go out to him though we can`t condone what he`s done in life . I found it difficult to sympathise with this violent nutter myself but I guess anyone who asks

" Who did you f*** while I was inside ? " only to be met with the reply

" Everyone . I work in a brothel don`t I ? "

can`t actually be responsible for much of their own actions . Indeed Chopper is painted as a sad pathetic idiot though thankfully not as some type of victim

So I found CHOPPER to be violently disturbing and laugh out funny in equal measure , just like the first time I saw TAXI DRIVER . Have I mentioned that Eric Bana is going to become the world`s biggest movie star ?
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10/10
Wow
bevo-136783 April 2020
I like the bit where he punched the woman and said now look what you made me do
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7/10
Just a bloke. Just a bloke, down on his luck.
Hey_Sweden30 June 2016
"Chopper" is a fairly engaging, sometimes humorous depiction of the exploits of Mark Brandon "Chopper" Read (Eric Bana), a notorious Australian criminal. Out to make a name for himself, he would never let the truth get in the way of a good story. He would write a best selling autobiography while doing time, and this movie serves as a fictionalization of various incidents in his life.

Writer / director Andrew Dominik ("The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford") and his fellow filmmakers are right up front about the fact that their film isn't really a biography. Provided that prospective viewers can tolerate some very juicy moments of extreme violence, they'll find that this is a pretty stylish and offbeat experience. Bana, known at the time as a stand up comic in his native country, makes the yarn funnier than it might have been otherwise. It's particularly funny the way that he denies it when he's in pain. His charismatic yet also subtly creepy performance is the main reason to watch, yet he does receive strong support from Simon Lyndon, David Field, Dan Wyllie, Bill Young, Vince Colosimo, Kenny Graham, Kate Beahan, and Serge Liistro. Since Chopper is prone to spinning yarns, his credibility obviously can be taken with a grain of salt, and it allows Dominik and company to relate a particular event from different points of view.

Clocking in at a fairly trim 91 minutes, "Chopper" isn't exactly epic in scope, but it delivers commanding entertainment for its duration.

Seven out of 10.
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7/10
Good biopic
grantss10 November 2020
Good biopic on the life of Mark "Chopper" Read, a notorious Australian criminal. Often funny, yet very violent too. Interesting and intriguing.

Great performance by Eric Bana in the lead role. The role made his career.
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4/10
Sophomoric tripe
=G=13 October 2003
"Chopper" is a simple-minded flick which tells a tall tale about an Aussie man who not only is a self professed murderer but also a best selling pulp author who penned a series of "Chopper" novels. Regardless, the film is mostly fiction and very simple-minded in its approach with the Dominik obviously getting off on having people get hurt without the expected reaction. EXAMPLE: "Chopper" gets stabbed several times and the hugs and consoles his attacker. EXAMPLE: A guy gets shot in the head point blank with a 4-10 gauge shotgun and wanders around with a hand over the wound before keeling over. EXAMPLE: "Chopper" has part of his ears cut off while he sits calmly bleeding like a stuck pig giving instructions since he apparently can't do it himself. Etc. In the final analysis, "Chopper" is a dumb movie with poor production value and little going for it as it flounders near the bottom of the B-flick barrel in that vast wasteland called broadcast. Recommended only for Aussie crime junkies or fans of the players. (D+)
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7/10
Fine film making that isn't a documentary but storytelling in cinema form. Also a fantastic performance by Eric Bana
KineticSeoul18 February 2011
This is a entertaining prison flick that revolves around a tough as nails prisoner. Even if not all of the scenes takes place in prison. In fact I was shocked to find out a lot of the scenes don't take place in prison. Although this movie came out before "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" which is another movie directed by the same director. The movie about the last days of Jesse James was shot very well with some of the most beautiful cinematography I ever seen. I found this movie to be more entertaining and gritty, even the cinematography looks gritty intentional or not. It's mainly because of the way it went with the lighting, especially the prison scenes. Now although this film is a bit more entertaining it lacks the noteworthy performances from other cast members and scenery with some great music "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" has. But this movie still excels in other departments. Now prisoners aren't people that deserve praise, but the way Chopper is portrayed in this movie makes him sort of likable, well sort of. Even if the movie isn't a biography like the film states in the start of it all. Now I have no idea the characteristic and personality of the real Mark Brandon "Chopper" Read, but Eric Bana made this character believable. His acting in this was fantastic and it's what really drives this movie. On a negative side, the movie isn't crafted and put together all that well and feels all over the place at times. But it's still a pretty good film making, it's a dark and yet somewhat humorous film that does a good job of showing Chopper as it's main attention and center of it all. This has a good blend of fact and fiction in it and isn't one of those movies that it's better to just pass on.

7.8/10
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6/10
"Chopper" is choppy and pointless.
gridoon3 April 2003
"Chopper" is a film that has no point. The title character remains inscrutable from beginning to end. Perhaps you could have a better understanding of him by reading one of his books, but watching this movie will get you nowhere. The script is very limited in its perspective, giving you only a small glimpse of Chopper's life, and the director's stylistic tricks, although often interesting, offer no insight into the character. However, there are some individual scenes in the funny/bloody "Pulp Fiction" mold that do grab your attention (like the early scene in which Chopper gets stabbed and at first doesn't ever realize it; I had to watch it twice!), and certainly none of the movie's faults can be blamed on Eric Bana, who does his best with a poor script. (**)
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7/10
Australian psycho
paul2001sw-12 March 2006
Cinema's fascination with serial killers often seems overdone: are such freaks really so interesting? But 'Chopper', the story of an Australian psychopath, is an immaculately made film, and a terrifying portrait of a man utterly unsocialised, but completely human. Eric Bana is superb in the role, and the underside of Australin life is depicted without any glamour, although the film itself, by its very nature, can only add to the real killer's mystique. And with no point of emotional attachment, one is left wondering, what is this film actually for, beyond the mere depiction of awfulness? Perhaps the Choppers of this world are really best forgotten.
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Oddly chilling
Red_Identity12 December 2014
Eric Bana is really great in this. Like, I'm surprised his work here doesn't seem to get mentioned much. Or maybe it's just not that seen. Regardless, it's outstanding work, the kind of work Tom Hardy was tying to hit in Bronson but didn't hit the depths that Bana did. The film is good, definitely nothing compared to Dominik's masterpiece The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. But Bana makes it truly worthwhile, even if his film threatens to fall under its own ambition. It's not a great film, but it's a great effort at one and it sometimes shows, maybe too much. But I definitely recommend it, it deserves to be seen and one day maybe it will hit the mainstream.
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A little disappointed
MLDinTN10 July 2003
I was expecting a better movie than this from other reviews I've read. I thought it would be a lot more violent, but the violent scenes seemed more comedic than anything else. Like Chopper gets stabbed several times by his bud in jail, and he just stands there. I mean, I think someone would fall over after that. And then the guards at the jail act like they don't care and aren't concerned when there is an attack in the jail. I mean, that was just unrealistic.

Eric Bana played the character well. But in most of the movie, it is like he's wearing a fat suit and some kind of prosthetic on his face to make him look like a chipmunk. Also, I'm sure I would have thought it was better if I was from Australia and had heard of this guy Chopper before. The movie would have made more sense then. Plus, I didn't like how one moment Chopper is in jail, then after getting his ears cut off, it jumps to him out of jail. Well what happened. Was he sent to another part of the prison for a couple of years before being released or what. The movie didn't explain it.

FINAL VERDICT: This was OK. At least it is better than some mind numbing explosion filled brainless action flick. I would recommend it to those who like unique independent films. It does have its good points.
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6/10
Reminded me of Charles Bronson...
Thanos_Alfie7 December 2018
"Chopper" is a Biography - Drama movie in which we watch the intense story of Mark "Chopper" Read who was an Australian convicted criminal, gang member, rapper and author. He wrote his autobiography while was in prison and his book "From the Inside" became best-seller. We watch his life story by this book, from his early ages to his jail time and the interviews he gave to reporters.

I liked this movie because it was based on a true story of a person, it was interesting and in many times unexpected. The direction which was made by Andrew Dominik was very good with many good scenes and a good combination of action with comedy and romance with drama. I also liked the interpretation of Eric Bana who played as Mark "Chopper" Read and he was simply amazing and I believe the choice of this actor to play this kind of role was absolutely correct. In addition to this, some other interpretations have to be mentioned such as Vince Colosimo's who played as Neville Bartos and David Field's who played as Keithy George.

To sum up, I have to say that "Chopper" is a good movie to watch with an interesting plot, many good scenes and a good sense of humor. If you have watched the movie "Bronson" which is a biography movie based on the life of Charles Bronson then I am sure that this movie will remind you that. I recommend everyone to watch this movie because it's funny and at the same time dramatic, with an interesting plot and an amazing interpretation made by Eric Bana.
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9/10
Never let the truth get in the way of a good yarn
The-Sarkologist25 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This is basically the movie that pretty much made Eric Bana, and while it has been suggested that it is not supposed to be a comedy, there are quite a number of parts where you just cannot help but burst out in laughter (such as the scene where he shows some woman him member in the bar), even after having seen the movie at least four or five times previously. In fact, it is one of those movies that even though you know what is coming up, the scene itself is still very amusing.

I am sure everybody in Australia knows who Uncle Chop Chop, or Mark 'Chopper' Brandon Reid is, but for those international people who don't believe that there is anything of relevance outside of their borders, he was basically a Melbourne standoverman who pretty much made a packet (legitimately) by writing a series of books while he was in prison. As he says in the movie, he is a best selling author, and he can't spell, so there are probably a bunch of university graduated English majors who are fuming. My thoughts are more power to him, particularly since what he writes about (and shame on me for not actually having read any of his books) are things that people actually want to read.

The question really is whether the events in this movie are true or not. Well, to be honest with you, as Chopper says himself, the movie is 100% true and 100% rubbish. The one thing that crims, especially those like Chopper Read, is to take a true story and embellish it so much that nobody can actually use the story itself to prove that what actually happened is true or false. Mind you, most of the scenes in Pentridge (with maybe the exception of the stabbing murder of one of the Painters and Dockers leader) are probably true, namely because there are corroborative sources, but then most of those scenes do not implicate him in anything anyway. Still, the murder probably did happen as described, but then again we will never know.

However, there are parts of this film that are not true to form. Granted, Bana plays his role brilliantly, right down to the fact that you can actually believe that he is some paranoid, drug crazed, standoverman, however Chopper actually took offence at the suggestion that he actually beat up women. To be honest, there are aspects of the criminal world that would not stand for that type of behaviour. They say that there is no honour among thieves, but that saying is actually as flawed as some of the stories in this film.

As is suggested, Chopper never went after or assaulted an innocent person, and this is very much the case among the professional underworld. They are not interested in innocent people. Those who commit muggings and break and enters of random houses then to be young street kids, those that the professional underworld considers expendable. The professionals actually don't care about these people, namely because there are more important fish to fry when dealing with the underbelly of society. Mind you, while the criminal underworld intrudes into every aspect of our lives (you can be assured that the local pub is probably paying protection money to somebody) those of us who are not involved in it, probably don't need to worry about having some professional killer come gunning after you.
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6/10
The Truth Lies
sol-5 May 2017
Based on Mark 'Chopper' Read's best-selling autobiography, this graphic drama looks at the notorious Australian criminal's life in and out of jail and his penchant for spinning detailed accounts of violent incidents that tended to stray from the truth. Eric Bana does well in the lead role as we gradually see just how deluded he is, operating under a false assumption that the local police endorse his killing and maiming drug dealers to clean up the streets, and yet the film ultimately feels like more of a collection of assorted events than a cohesive narrative. Some of the incidents are admittedly rather riveting, but others (particularly his girlfriend problems) tend to drag on for too long, especially given that the film's best moments are saved for his conversations with the police; there is a particularly amusing exchange about whether or not he took a man he shot to the hospital and there is a great conversation near the end involving a .410 shotgun. The film is curiously visualised too with unsettling unnatural blue and green light filters and even some slow motion bits. Viewed with Nicolas Winding Refn's similarly themed 'Bronson' in mind, what Bana and director Andrew Dominik manage to achieve here feels extremely slight by comparison, however, 'Chopper' was of course made first and the possible influences on 'Bronson' are intriguing to say the least.
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7/10
Chopper Read cut down to size, in both a physical and observational sense as the life and times of a hard bodied man is explored.
johnnyboyz28 February 2010
Chopper begins with a group of men huddled in a cramped prison cell watching a television that it would appear has been placed especially within. They're watching a programme about one of the three men; that man is Mark Brandon Read, an Australian made somewhat famous for his infamy and who goes by the nickname of "Chopper". Eric Bana's steely gaze as the convict dominates the sequence, the film lingering on his expression in close up format as he himself remains locked on a TV programme detailing his very exploits. Through lingering on Read's expression, a sense of glee at his actions as one of his victims explains how the very onlooker once harmed him, the audience are invited to realise a viewpoint, or perspective, of the man; one from the point of view of a victim whilst systematically cutting to the guy for what he is, sitting there in the flesh and watching on. The film is more interested in the figure of Chopper than the news report, essentially setting up what Andrew Dominik 's 2000 film is all about: the getting to know what made Chopper who he is away from all the television and the media opinions.

The film is mostly all of one long flashback, one that'll begin in 1978 therefore allowing us to observe ourselves mostly everything that made Chopper who he is up to that point in prison, circa 1991. In introducing Chopper as a jail-dwelling; steely eyed; tattooed individual whom watches accounts of men he's maimed in the past on TV informing everyone of how bad/evil/nasty he is, the film sets up a pretty stone-wall image of the man during the early exchanges. What follows is a film that doesn't' excuse what Chopper did or what he is, but rather explores how he came about obtaining both his physical and media-driven image and aura. When the film has come full circle and we end up in the prison cell again, there's a moment one of the guards appears sad that the time has come for the TV report to conclude; both guards to leave and for the door to be slammed shut and locked. The guard looked sad, but there was an additional degree of acceptance in his face - Chopper Read may well be a funny, charismatic and involving guy but he's done what he's done in the past and that time which arrives that'll see the jail house door slam shut is a sad realisation that he's there as a result of his flaws more-so his enthusiasm for what he does.

When the tale of who he is, why he is begins in Pentridge Prison in the late 1970s; the film waits for all of about five minutes to use this frightening and unhinged aura about the man it built up by way of all the talk in the opening. Chopper's a violent man and the film is accordingly so, with one of its more gruesome scenes playing out in the tough manner that it does because it's blood-letting and maiming which is self inflicted by way of a third party. Whilst not a direct action of one character on another, Chopper's drive to get out of the prison division he's in and get relocated sees him take measures that see him loose parts of both ears.

Chopper is the sort of film that'll see a person stab another, several times whilst in prison, before have the pair of them sit down some years later in an apartment and just talk. Chopper's like that, there's a really odd atmosphere about it; a brooding sense that there'll be an emoting of anger just around the corner all put across by way of an odd blue tint that drowns out most other colours and emphasises the grime and the dark most locations possess. The film presents Chopper as a distinctive figure, whereas most of his prison inmates in the early scenes sport long hair and huge moustaches; Chopper doesn't have any of anything. His shaven head and minimal facial hair aid in our association with him as this alienated figure from everyone else, to the point it appears his own friendships have run aground. Chopper's physical appearance in his hard, muscular and tattoo-clad body further pushes him away from his fellow inmates as this tale of how a society; a culture; a nation eventually bordered on a kind of infatuation with the man.

Just as Chopper's body is put through a wringer of stab wounds and ear mutilation, his mind goes through a similarly rough period of anguish. Once out of prison in the 1980s, and out with girlfriend Tanya (Beahan), he eyes a man named Neville (Colosimo) who he believes was seeing his partner during his time inside. The camera sticks with Chopper's face complete with stare, again in close up format, as a series of strobe lights flash across his face – a storm brewing on the inside, a series of explosions built on rage going off behind the steely face. The film will use the three primary colours of red, green and blue to blend together to create a spectrum of hate; threat and supposed forgiveness at various times; maintaining a blue tint throughout with, later on, a mini-bar at Neville's home being drowned out by some blood red lighting as further tempers fray and hatred reaches a peak. This, as Chopper's conversation with a former best friend-turned-betrayer and consequent enemy is covered in a green tint, suggesting calm or neutralness as they sit amidst drug infused squalor and talk uneasily. Chopper's an interesting film; a combining of smut and grot with some odd sequences of a post-modern sort channelling an aesthetic akin to something like 1996's Trainspotting. Dominik would later revisit this idea of studying a menace to society in his 2007 Jesse James film; but Chopper's detailing of a guy with a bizarrely attuned celebrity status plus violent streak is worth seeing by itself.
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10/10
Bana went from Aussie comedian to Chopper and got everybody's attention
damianphelps18 December 2020
Chopper is a classic. If you want to be picky you could probably drop one rating point if you are not Australian as it will not connect with you as much as when you have lived with the story.

Bana is as good in this as Crowe was in Romper Stomper!

A very dynamic story that successfully combines mental health, crime, humour, violence and lies lies lies.

Not for the faint hearted but the story is an honest telling of the not very often honest, Mark "Chopper" Reed.

Set aside a nice quiet evening and let your jaw hit the floor.
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7/10
Uninflected Psychological Character Study, or Detached Sensationalist Biopic?
jzappa7 February 2011
Australian actor-comedian Eric Bana, who we know from Hulk, Black Hawk Down and Munich, believably fleshes out a violent extortionist so formidable and yet so dense and hurt. There's a scene where he is shanked by his confidant, and continues appearing to be in no pain at all. His lack of concern is shocking. He looks down at blood pouring from his torso like someone else has been injured, and then up at his assailant as if conveying sorrow that it should've come to this. Then there's another scene where he shoots a drug dealer and then considerately drives him to the hospital.

The movie, which I'm completely unsure it finds what it's looking for, is either 1) shrewd or 2) too eager to get to the prurient in not depicting an elucidation of Chopper's aggressive depravity. Regardless, it does give a hint in the way he's separate from criminal gangs and has no partners. He's not a gangster, if that word entails a line of work, but a brutal psychopath taken by impulsive frenzies. There is a surprising moment during a passing stint on the outside of prison, when he re-examines old hangouts and old friends and appears gracious and appeasing, until his rabid side lashes with unrestrained wrath. The earlier amiability was not a put-on to throw people off their guard. He actually was feeling welcoming, and did not essentially expect the blasts of rage out of the blue.

How this initially shocking, then bleakly funny, then merely repetitive cult biopic uninflectingly illustrates its subject is as a row of disturbed emotional states and thought processes. Perhaps a clinical mood disorder case reared in a society not bound to notice or care, or equip him with the ability to do either himself, he's just seized by these agitated episodes flanked by comparatively normal behavior despite being a violent, oversexed criminal. Nevertheless, the rapid alternating, which is sometimes played for perverse laughs, or suspense, or surprise, though it's more fascinating portrayals occur near the beginning as mere exposition, sometimes leads to what is either delusion and hallucination on his part, or stylistic flourish by Dominik.

I'm guessing the latter, though I enjoy Dominik's fascinating use of camera speeds in depicting the influence of cocaine, or the multiple perspectives of Chopper's shooting of a man and the intentions of both later on. But around the time of this shooting, there begins to set in an unforeseen sorrow that elevates this flashy cinematic drill, which, if nothing else for sure, is certainly a revelation of Bana's talent.
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8/10
Bana Rules
billcr1214 April 2013
Chopper is the nickname of Mark Brandon Read, a notorious real life criminal whose crimes were chronicled in a best selling book by him. Eric Bana plays Read to perfection. An early scene brings to mind the Michael Madsen ear slicing portion of Reservoir Dogs. The camera stays on Bana for 90 percent of the hour and a half running time; and not a minute is wasted. The style is similar to the equally vicious Bronson, which also deals with an infamous Australian criminal. Both are must see movies for anyone who is a fan a the crime genre. The sardonic humor is the sort typically associated with films from Down Under. Just to watch Bana chew up the screen with the look of an actual sociopath, is worth the price of the DVD rental. The New York Times of April 13, 2013 has a profile of Mark Brandon Read which is an excellent companion to this adaptation. Do not miss Chopper.
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Essential viewing!
Infofreak24 June 2001
This is the best Australian movie EVER. And I'm Australian so I should know. Even more than that, it's the best movie made ANYWHERE this decade, and up there with just about anything you care to name. Chopper manages to mix violence and humour in ways only Tarantino and Russ Meyer have previously touched, and performs a miracle - mostly on the strength of Eric Bana's performance - makes you actually empathise with 'Chopper' Read without sugarcoating his psychotic behaviour. A lesson for Hollywood in how to make a challenging, provocative movie about violence that treats us like a THINKING ADULT who doesn't need to be spoonfed. What a concept,eh?
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7/10
Original and disturbing
Chris_Docker3 December 2000
This is an intelligently made, if at times very violent, film providing a fictionalized account of a real life Australian murderer who went on to write best selling books about his own life. that in itself raises some unpalatable questions, but although Chopper is not a movie for viewers with weak stomachs it is nevertheless an original contribution to independent film-making.
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6/10
Bana is Electrifying But Overall Story Wanders
noralee30 November 2005
"Chopper" is the dark side of the Antipodes.

How could I not go out of my way for a movie when reviews were comparing the lead actor to young Russell Crowe in "Romper Stomper"? Eric Bana is electrifying as Mark "Chopper" Read, a sociopathic murderer and he physically dominates the screen like the fascination for the abomination (but I did have to turn away from the screen a few times).

From Chopper's autobiographies, writer/director Andrew Dominik creates a stylized, cinematographically heightened, highly charged and scarily unpredictable portrait of violence exploding.

But his point is? That Chopper's surrounded by junkies, alcoholics and low-lifes and prison makes it all worse? Maybe Dominik hasn't been able to see the TV series "Oz" or "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer" that have covered this territory already?

And how come Chopper keeps getting out of jail?

I was probably hampered by not getting some of the very heavy, working class Australian accents and slang so that I really didn't understand much of the closing monologue by Bana which probably gave an ultimate run down.

(originally written 4/14/2001)
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