Notoriously known as Britain’s most dangerous criminal, Charles Bronson is the ideal candidate for a biopic. Bronson tells us the madman/misunderstood fellow’s story from when he was a child getting in fights at school right through his tumultuous prison life, detailing some of the more famous incidents, although often with some alterations and embellishments.
Told from the perspective of the man himself, we are privy to his various attacks on prison guards, his time in a mental institution and his penchant for getting into fights while completely starkers. However, the film is interspersed with narration told from a stage with Bronson dolled up in makeup (has Bronson’s life become a stageshow?), and certain parts are a little more theatrical than is probably true. This works well enough but may leave those expecting a straight up biopic a little confused.
Tom Hardy is superb as Bronson and many may be surprised by his varied acting range. From psychotic madman to troubled soul to bombastic showman, Hardy shows immense versatility not always seen in his films.
Bronson has been hailed by some as the modern generation’s A Clockwork Orange but such hyperbolic statements should not be taken too seriously. There are parallels between the two films, namely the healthy doses of the old ultraviolence and the exuberant yet dangerous nature of the protagonist, but Bronson lacks the disturbing social commentary of A Clockwork Orange, rather focusing on a single man’s
misunderstood twisted troubled mind. That’s not a criticism, just an important distinction between the two films. A Clockwork Orange appalled and upset, but there is little in Bronson that will do the same once the initial shock value wears off, which it does a little too quickly.
Words: Chris Thomson