Movie Review: BRONSON (2008)

Published by Shah Shahid on

Before he directed Ryan Gosling in the 80’s flashback DRIVE, and before he was Bane in this summer’s THE DARK KNIGHT RISES… Director Nicolas Winding Refn & Tom Hardy (respectively) hooked up for a bloody awesome movie known as BRONSON!

Rating: 3 Out Of 5 Stars

BRONSON is the story of one man, who is incarcerated and realizes that his true calling can be achieved through fisticuffs and blood. Tom Hardy gives his best performance to date, which Director Nicolas Refn couples with mind boggling graphic sequences. However a word of warning: it does get weirder and weirder.

The movie is based on a true story about Britain’s most expensive prisoner. This man is not a murderer, nor a serial killer. He is a completely insane (or genius) man whose emotional turmoil works towards his own detriment and is responsible for his unofficial career of being a professional prisoner in Britain’s penal system. Tom Hardy is the titular Bronson, who can be summed up as being living and breathing TNT, whose sole purpose in existing, is to explode.

this… happens a lot!

There’s not much to say about BRONSON, except that it’s Refn doing what he does best, which is present a simple story in a unique and fucked up way, with brilliant performances.

In BRONSON we get Bronson himself narrating the story of his life. A hot headed and impulsive young man, gets sent to jail for a robbery, however that’s where he finds his true calling. As he claims in the narration, ‘Prison is a hotel’, he loves it and revels in it, and his path of violence and destruction as an inmate, is what made him famous.

BRONSON is a mindless tale that is nothing more of an adrenaline filled rampage through the mind of this psychotic lunatic. And it’s awesome! Hardy’s performance as the completely topsy-turvy Bronson is the stuff of legend. In a film with gruesome violence, Hardy’s portrayal can at times invoke slide-splitting laughter. His erratic behavior and penchant for cracking jaws and breaking noses keeps one in complete suspense of which dramatic scene will erupt into a brawl next.

Refn’s technical brilliance is on full display here as he combines the brilliant one-man performance by Hardy with camera angles and a soundtrack that gives stoic effect to every scene. Refn’s stationary camera work as Bronson circles his prison cell, aerial shots of brutal beatdowns with full frontal nudity and a soundtrack which combines classic operas along with fast paced synthesizer beats is so complimentary to the on screen goings on, that it leaves one breathless of every scene.

like i said… weird.

Not following the Brit scene, I couldn’t recognize much of the supporting cast… however it wasn’t needed, as they did nothing in comparison to Hardy. Especially considering Hardy grew one of the most legendary Moustaches in cinematic history for this movie.

Tom Hardy as Bronson, in combination to the synthesizer and hokey music, at times made BRONSON feel like it was a slapstick comedy. It was almost like Bronson himself was a comedic character, of which only he was aware, trapped in a violent and dramatic movie, kind of reminiscent of Malcolm McDowell in A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. This works towards the awesome-ness of the film as it’s meant to be completely messed up and at times, scary as hell.

yes… yes he is a mime…

The narrative of this film is also unique, and provides yet another aspect into the twisted mind of Bronson. Bronson himself recounts the entire story for the audience, as he’s putting on a one-man stage show, in front of a live audience, most likely in his own mind. It’s a brilliant concept, especially when sometimes Bronson will act out conversations he’s had with others, by himself. Awesome!

BRONSON is a cinematic overture of the mind and inner workings of a psychopathic and emotionally complex individual, while it’s on a journey to claim its purpose in the world… though some fucked up reasoning. BRONSON is a masterpiece of amazing storytelling that defies the typical conventions of following a beginning, middle and end, however is not for the faint of heart, or easily offended.

Get the Blu ray

Shah Shahid

Entertainment Writer | Film & TV Critic | Bollywood Blogger | Host of Split Screen Podcast | Proud Geek Girl Dad


Kay Richards · November 8, 2012 at 11:39 AM

Great review! I was pretty skeptical when I first heard about this movie, but one of my friends I work with at DISH kept raving about it, so I decided to check it out. I rented it with my Blockbuster @Home package, watched it the other night, and absolutely enjoyed everything about it! I’ve watched it a couple times since then too, and definitely give Tom Hardy props for this role! I’ve seen him in some other stuff as well, and it just goes to show how versatile he is in acting; he is extraordinary. I really don’t think this film would have been the same without Tom Hardy as the front man. Thank you for sharing! 🙂

    Shah Shahid · November 8, 2012 at 12:22 PM

    Hey Kay, thanks for taking the time to comment.

    I agree with everything you said. I also find it amazing that Hardy did BRONSON before the stuff that makes him a well known celeb today. It was groundbreaking stuff. Incidentally, he was also in STAR TREK: INSURRECTION. One of the best actors out there right now.

      Kay Richards · November 11, 2012 at 11:10 AM

      I agree Shah; he really is one of the best actors out there right now! I didn’t know he was in that Star Trek movie either, thanks for letting me know! I’ll have to add that to my Blockbuster @Home queue to check out as well! Thanks for the reply! 🙂

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