A young man who was sentenced to seven years in prison for robbing a post office ends up spending three decades in solitary confinement. During this time, his own personality is supplanted by his alter-ego, Charles Bronson.
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Nicolas Winding Refn
Kristin Scott Thomas,
In 1974, a hot-headed 19 year old named Michael Peterson decided he wanted to make a name for himself and so, with a homemade sawn-off shotgun and a head full of dreams he attempted to rob a post office. Swiftly apprehended and originally sentenced to seven years in jail, Peterson has subsequently been behind bars for 34 years, 30 of which have been spent in solitary confinement. During that time, Michael Petersen, the boy, faded away and 'Charles Bronson,' his superstar alter ego, took center stage. Inside the mind of Bronson - a scathing indictment of celebrity culture.Written by
Contrary to popular belief, Tom Hardy did not do 2,500 push-ups a day in preparation for the role of Bronson. The confusion and reason for this rumor is that Charlie Bronson (Michael Peterson) himself was the one doing 2,500 push-ups a day around the time Hardy was meeting with him to gather information for the film script. Hardy himself denied this rumor during an interview in late 2009 with Michael Slenke from Interview Magazine. The full interview is available at the magazine's website. The interview is titled 'Rough Character'. See more »
Large parts of the film depict events that never happened; in particular the sequence where Bronson is released 'for being sane' during the 80's (Charlie was declared sane, sent back to prison and subsequently released in 1987), goes to live in a brothel (the 'brothel' is supposed to depict Uncle Jack's flat), starts a bare-knuckle boxing career (Charlie did box but never bare fisted) and gets his 'new' name, (His boxing promoter changed his name but not officially) then proposes to a girl before being sent back to prison. (Charlie did steal an engagement ring with the intention of proposing to his girlfriend. Also, Charlie only met Tom Hardy on two occasions. See more »
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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