Bronson - Blu-ray Review

'quite rightly, Hardy drives this but all too often it feels like he doesn't have anyone navigating for him'

It's a brave move during the opening third of Bronson by Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn to openly and directly call to mind A Clockwork Orange. Drawing such parallels with a famous drama happening to feature a criminally minded young man and your own criminal biography about a famous prisoner is risking the wrath of its legions of cult fans, not to mention inviting the inevitable criticism that would come in the light of comparison. All kudos to Refn then because, at least during the opening third, he manages to pull it off - here is a startlingly unique visual experience through the mind and times of Charles Bronson (Tom Hardy) or Michael Peterson as his Mother knows him.

Unfortunately it's a visual style that Refn struggles to keep up, a fact which becomes one of Bronson's failing points but, at least at the start, it's fantastic. Refn combines the dramatic depiction of Bronson's acts with a monologue by Hardy, directly playing to a theatre house, assumedly meant to represent us, the 'real life' audience. Hardy's in-character ramblings come complete with all of Bronson's bizarre ticks and character traits and although, again, towards the end they start to drag and grate slightly, at least as Bronson gets going they are beautiful aides to us understanding his extreme and extremely violent character.

At parts of Bronson though, it feels like Refn is on the verge of losing control. Hardy's performance, whilst of unquestionable brilliance, starts to feel like it's running away with the film whilst simultaneously holding it all together. Quite rightly, Hardy drives this but all too often it feels like he doesn't have anyone navigating for him. Refn's depiction of such a wild and violent character really needs a stronger core for it to work properly because in this, Refn's tone and narrative veer as much as Bronson's innate madness.

That shouldn't be allowed too much though, to distract from the great work going on elsewhere. Hardy is as good as you've read and his transformation into the genuinely scary Bronson is really thrilling to watch. Refn too, although shouldering the blame for the parts of Bronson that don't work, can equally take great heart for the parts that do. Bronson is an ethereal, meandering experience with loose and beautiful ties to the period through a direct musical and artistic aesthetic. It's just a shame that at times Bronson is too meandering and loose, too without focus to work properly, without distraction and come the end of it, it does feel slightly like Refn has led you up the winding garden path rather than shot a really coherent biography.

Look further...

'Bare-knuckle brawling with mentally unstable and physically jacked sociopaths? Sounds like a date!' - Cut The Crap Movie Reviews, 8/10


  1. Yeah, I dug this movie quite a bit. Good review, too, man. I need to go check out Refn's other stuff. Heard lots of good things about the Pusher trilogy.

  2. I'd not heard anything about him before this but you certainly can't accuse him of holding back. He obviously had a look he wanted for the film and he shot for it with absolutely full conviction. As to whether he fully hit it, well... I think there's a debate to be had there but certainly I've not seen something as brave as this for a while.