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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.


Brock Norman Brock (screenplay), Nicolas Winding Refn (screenplay)
1,782 ( 190)
3 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Tom Hardy ... Charles Bronson / Michael Peterson
Kelly Adams ... Irene
Luing Andrews ... Hysterical Screw
Katy Barker ... Julie
Gordon Brown Gordon Brown ... Screw
Amanda Burton ... Charlie's Mum
Mark Devenport Mark Devenport ... Nurse 1 (as Mark Davenport)
Paul Donnelly Paul Donnelly ... Screw
Andrew Forbes Andrew Forbes ... Charlie's Dad
Jon House Jon House ... Webber
Matt King ... Paul Daniels
James Lance ... Phil
Holly Lucas Holly Lucas ... Young Man
Juliet Oldfield ... Alison
Jonny Phillips ... Prison Governor


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 Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Man. The Myth. The Celebrity. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violent and disturbing content, graphic nudity, sexuality and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

13 March 2009 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Бронсон See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

£258,360 (United Kingdom), 15 March 2009, Limited Release

Opening Weekend USA:

$10,940, 9 October 2009, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$104,792, 27 December 2009
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | DTS (uncredited)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


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 »


Paul: Impressive set of guns you've got there darling, you must be handy in a brawl? Bam bam, knockout, ding ding!
Charles Bronson: [Clenches fists and enters boxing stance]
Paul: [Sips tea] Ahh, very nice!
See more »


Referenced in Grand Theft Auto V (2013) See more »


from Strauss' Eine Alpensinfonie, Op. 64
Written by Richard Strauss
© Copyright by F.E.C. Leuckart Musikverlag, Munich/Germany
Licenses by Peter Editiion Limited, London
Performed by David Zinman
All rights reserved. International copyright secured
Licensed courtesy of EMI Records Limited
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

The subject is undeserving and unexamined but the delivery is engagingly over-the-top
28 April 2012 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

Bronson is the story of a very violent man, a man with clear mental issues that have gained him the infamous title of the most violent criminal in the UK; he is undeserving of attention on the scale this film gives him and the idea that he is somehow pleased with the film or that it has earned him "fame" is something that sat uneasy with me while watching and continues to sit uneasy with me afterwards. Morally I wondered why I came to the film and also why it was made; director Refn certainly doesn't seem bothered by this though and indeed did himself no favours by famously illegally taping the real man's comments on the film for broadcast at the premiere. So with this in mind it is hard to swallow a film that doesn't seems to have a certain apathy towards the central character – not a great choice of word perhaps but, while the film doesn't go as far as admiring Bronson, it certainly doesn't condemn him or present him in a way that will revile an audience.

Having said that though, what Refn seems to have done is created this film where Bronson tells us his own story. This allows for a soft touch (as it is his own) but also for this violently compulsive mind to create and fill the film so that he is equally a larger than life character while also being quite terrifying in his snaps and swings. The result of this approach is not a film that is to be relied on for the facts of the story but it is one that really delivers a quite dizzying film in terms of borrowed styles, impact, violence and sheer over-the top bravado. It is hard to really process because on one hand this was a problem for me but on the other it actually worked very well to produce a film that is as much a monster as its subject – and the kind part of me wants to believe that this was the point.

If it was then it is successful in some way because it is a beast of a film that comes at you violently and persistently. This is not all praise perhaps, but this is what it does. Depending on your point of view, Refn's direction either pays homage or rips off plenty of others as he throws visual styles and flairs at the screen as if he never thought he's make another film. There are countless reference points are in here if you want them, but for sure Clockwork Orange is what he is going for and I suppose in some way the sheer energy with which he goes after it is commendable. It is not his style and it doesn't make you forget the failings in substance, but it is engaging as pure style. Matching him step for step in this regard is an incredibly ballsy performance from Hardy. It is worth noting that I do not think it is great when it comes to character or intelligence but these failings are in the material, not with Hardy – he follows his director and he deserves a lot of credit for not flinching from anything. He is intense but yet flamboyant, disturbed but yet disturbing, a nice bloke but yet a hideous monster – and it is all done with 100% conviction. His Bronson is not a well-crafted character but (rightly or wrongly) he isn't meant to be and Hardy hammers home what he has been given.

Bronson is not an easy watch. For one reason it features strong violence, language and nudity that may put some off, but the much bigger reason for me was the lack of morality within the construct of the story. The lead character is allowed to tell his own story and as he twists it with his ego, so the whole film is twisted by his ego – Bronson as a man doesn't deserve this done on his behalf and it sat uneasy with me. The saving grace though is that the whole thing is excessive and full-on from the director, an approach which in turn draws an intense and bravely excessive performance from Hardy that makes this really worth watching even if it has a lot of problems in it and around it.

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