Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bronson (2009) - Review

Here is a review I wrote last year. Thought I'd post it here as it's what this place is all about -

"I'm proud of this film, because if I drop dead tonight, then I live on. I make no bones about it, I really was... a horrible, violent, nasty man. I'm not proud of it, but I'm not ashamed of it either... See you at the Oscars."

I went and brought the film 'Bronson' today after much arsing around in Tesco's.
I remember seeing the trailer for it earlier this year but for whatever reason I never got to the cinema. when the ad's for it's DVD release started being shown on TV I was reminded how much I had wanted to see it.

It stars English actor Tom Hardy in the title role who put on three stone of muscle and did 2,500 press-ups a day (A routine the real Bronson does daily in real life) for five weeks to match the look of the man himself. The film is directed by Nicolas Winding Refn.

If you don't really know much about the notorious Charles Bronson (Who changed his name when he became a bare knuckle fighter) here is some background info for you.

Charles Bronson (born 6 December, 1952) is an Anglo-Welsh criminal who has been referred to in the British press as the "most violent prisoner in Britain".
Bronson was born Michael Gordon Peterson. His parents, Eira and Joe Peterson, would run the Conservative club in Aberystwyth, and his aunt, Eileen Parry, is quoted as saying "As a boy he was a lovely lad. He was obviously bright and always good with children. He was gentle and mild-mannered, never a bully - he would defend the weak."
Bronson was jailed for seven years in 1974, aged 22, for a bungled armed robbery on a tobacconist in Little Sutton, a suburb of Ellesmere Port, during which he stole £26.18. His sentence has been repeatedly extended for crimes committed within prison, which include wounding with intent, wounding, criminal damage, grievous bodily harm, false imprisonment, blackmail and threatening to kill.
Bronson has served all but four of his years in prison in solitary confinement due to a number of hostage situations, rooftop protests, and repeated attacks on prison staff and on other inmates. His dangerous behaviour has meant that he has spent time in over 120 different prisons, including Broadmoor high security psychiatric hospital.
In 2000, Bronson received a discretionary life sentence with a three year tariff for a hostage-taking incident. His appeal against this sentence was denied in 2004.
Bronson has spent a total of just four months and nine days out of custody since 1974. He was released on 30 October 1988 and spent 68 days as a free man before being arrested for robbery, and then released again on 9 November 1992, spending 53 days as a free man before being arrested again, this time for conspiracy to rob. In 1999 a special prison unit was set up for Bronson and two other violent prisoners from Woodhill (HM Prison), to reduce the risk they posed to staff and other prisoners.
He has not been allowed to mix with other prisoners since 1999.

Why on earth would anyone want to make a film about a guy who is clearly not all there? When you look at his family life there is no real reason why he turned out the way he did? But to me it makes him even more interesting.

I freely admit that I didn't know much about the man before I found out about this movie. I remember when I was younger hearing about him on the news and in the papers but it was only recently I took an interest in him and what he was all about. Personally I find it bizarre how someone like Bronson has managed to create his own little bubble where he really is the star of his own personal reality. It's quiet clear to me the man is unable to live in society and somehow would rather thrive inside prison as a 'somebody' then to live on the outside as a 'Nobody' which to be honest with you is what he would be.

To put it blank the man is a legend in his own mind and the film itself delves into why he did what he did and the prison life that follows

After doing a bit of research myself I have been informed a lot of what you see in the film actually happened. Obviously a some of it is fiction as well but a close personal friend of Bronson's has confirmed that most of it really did happen the way it is shown.
Again when you are having to listen to a man like Bronson recounting his memoirs can you really believe all of it? Jury is out on that one.

As I have said already I did enjoy Tom Hardy's portrayal of Bronson (Jason Statham was originally asked to take on the role but scheduling conflicts stopped him from appearing in this film).
He seriously bulked up to play the role and if you have seen him in other stuff you will know he is actually a rather skinny fellow. I'm sure he has been compared to Eric Bana who did the same in the Australian movie 'Chopper' (which is also worth a watch if you have not seen that).
Tom nails the voice and the mannerisms of Bronson so perfectly it really does put you on edge when watching the film as you are not sure if he is about to kick off or not.

He's also not afraid to let is 'All hang out' as well and although I'm not a fan of naked men it suits the story well how Bronson covers himself in paint and smacks seven shade of shit out of whoever is in his way. He used to do this a lot so it's only right it is in the film and fair play to Tom hardy for not being like some actors and avoiding to do such scenes.

At no point though do I think the violence in unnecessary like some people have said elsewhere on-line. This is a film about the most violent prisoner in Britain so it obviously plays a big part in it.
While this film does briefly touch on his emotional state the interesting part for me was why he felt the need to suddenly go off the rails and starting hold guards and prisoners hostage.
You kind of get the feeling it's his way of becoming a 'celeb' and is just out to make a name for himself.
Although it probably implies more about me I found one scene near the end of the film rather funny when he is holding the prison art teacher hostage in the Library for no other reason then wanting to have music piped in to listen too.
The real reason behind this though is because the prison art teacher manages to get inside Bronson's head whom he believes has an artistic gift. Bronson lets down his guard momentarily, offering a painting to the prison governor and is rebuffed. So he takes Phil hostage, paints himself in grease and charcoal and goes back to battling the guards.
At the end of this scene Bronson asks the guards to come in and take his hostage away (who he has not harmed but tied up and made a living piece of art) as "He looks like he has had enough".

If you read up on the real Bronson in the past some of his requests when taking hostages have been outright A-grade mental. These are not from the film but genuine things he has demanded in the past -

"I want an inflatable doll, a helicopter and a cup of tea"

And my personal favourite

"I want a plane to take me to Cuba, two Uzi sub-machine guns, 5,000 rounds of ammunition, an axe and a cheese and pickle sandwich"

I've read that a worldwide petition is in circulation to free Bronson based on the fact that he has spent so long behind bars without ever having killed, raped or molested anyone. Whether anyone will want to see him freed after "Bronson" is another story. Personally I'd keep him in there for as long as possible. He scares the crap out of me.
Also for a film about a terrifying hulk of a man who enjoys doing serious and lasting damage to other men, the Bronson soundtrack is an unexpected mix of pop and classic tunes. To be be fair any film that has It's A Sin by The Pet Shop Boys is a winner with me straight away.

Overall I thought this was a good film and although it's hard to tell what really is true and what isn't it's still a good piece of escapism for 95 minutes and gives you a look at what some people really can be like in the world we live in. It also manages to show you Bronson in an honest way and in no way tries to make him look in a better light.
The quote by the man himself at the top of this page should convince you of that.

No comments:

Post a Comment