Running Time: 92 minutes
Starring: Tom Hardy
Directed By: Nicolas Winding Refn
Rating: 6.5 out of 10
A man spends 30 years in solitary confinement where he discovers his alter ego, Bronson.
Sometimes movies can be insane. I don’t mean that they have crazy special effects or take place in mental health institutions. What I mean is, there is no rhyme or reason to what you are watching. It would seem all the characters, plot, and dialogue are thrown into a blender and mashed into a movie somehow. This is where we find ourselves with the movie Bronson. This is the story of Britain’s most notorious inmate (Bronson.) After being sentenced for 7 years for robbing a post office, Bronson ultimately spends 30 years in solitary confinement.
I will preface this review by saying I am not sure how to talk about what I just watched. Truthfully, this movie is impossible to recommend as its lack of anything coherent will have some people saying that it is awful (which is fair.) I on the other hand was able to sit back and truly enjoy Bronson in the absurdity that it is. The movie starts off and the viewer is treated to Bronson’s life, up to and including his arrest for robbing a post office. From there, the movie spirals out of control as Bronson proceeds to fight everyone who tries to get close to him. He fights with prisoners, guards, riot police, or anyone else who happens to get too close. There is a lot of hilarity to be found in an emotionally unstable person marching to his own beat. The movie flip flops from his time in jail, to him dressed as a clown and explaining his life. No one in Britain wants this madman, so he spends his time being shipped from different institutions to try and quell his maniacal tendencies. The film has no structure and is a cacophony of strange images and odd music. You never know where this movie is leading to, and in that mystery lays the fun of this film.
Bronson is played by Tom Hardy and he proves two things. The first, is that Hardy will always be hard to understand when he speaks in movies (See Bane, or Forrest Bondurant.) The second, is Hardy is a great actor. With his shaved head, old timey moustache, and chiseled body, Hardy will wow the viewer with a performance reminiscent of both Jokers from Batman. It is as if he combined Heath Ledgers and Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of the Joker, and made it into one crazy character. The movie would have floundered without Hardy, and his performance is highly underrated which is puzzling. If you like quality acting then look no further than this film.
Now, admittedly this film does drag in its second half as it struggles to keep the viewers attention. Long scenes of Bronson’s incarceration seem drawn out and depressing to watch. Bronson’s chaotic nature which is charming for the first half seems to wane as the film progresses. The film limps to its end, but it still worked in the sense that although it's slow, it is never predictable. Watching this film is like winding a Jack in the Box for the first time. The incessant music, the anticipation of the unknown, and lastly the suddenness of the toy jumping out of the box all make for an interesting time. In conclusion, I just loved the character too much for me not to enjoy this film. One minute Bronson is choking a mental patient and the next he is serving afternoon tea. Another moment he is in clown make-up and the next he is drugged out of his mind. I say give this movie a whirl if you appreciate films that are not your status quo.
Director Nicolas Winding Refn also penned this movie (Brock Norman Brock) and then proceeded to do whatever the frack he wanted with it. I like Refn’s screw you Hollywood attitude and just go with what he sees as right. It is a very hit or miss approach (I liked Drive, Valhalla Rising was balls) but at least it is always unique. This film seemed to be an acid trip gone right and I enjoyed its quirky characters and strange music. Hardy was the perfect choice for Bronson and it was an interesting story. The film dragged due to its strangeness and bleak scenery which should have been corrected by Refn but no one is perfect. Overall I applaud this strange film when it easily could have stumbled.
T Factor + If you like indie films than this could score higher on the rating scale.
T Factor – If you need your films to be fast paced then this could score lower on the rating scale.