2011 was one of my favorite years in movies that I can remember, and it was filled with some great years for both director of Drive, Nicolas Winding Refn and arguably the hottest new face in Hollywood the past two years Tom Hardy. Bronson is a film featuring them both, and helped bring these two faces into the light so they could reach the status they have today.
Hardy plays Charles Bronson, Britain’s most dangerous and notorious prisoner. Bronson longs to be a famous and recognized face, and after being arrested and put in jail for seven years for robbing a post office, he becomes so by being wreckless and careless, assaulting prisoners and prison guards alike. Bronson is released for a short period of time, where he starts a bare-knuckle boxing career, but he lasts only 60 odd days before being thrown back in, where he continues his past behavior.
Bronson is one of the simplest movies I will probably ever have to summarize and try to explain. This is all you need to know: Tom Hardy plays a violent, deranged prisoner. That is literally all there is to it. The presentation is really cool, with Hardy narrating his own story in front of a fictional audience on center stage of a fictional theater, his story is his own theater production. He doesn’t explain why he does what he does, and I don’t think we need to know. The most fascinating thing about the movie is trying to understand this character that Hardy brings to the screen.
If you needed more than Inception, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and Warrior to see the potential and power of Hardy’s acting, than you will be impressed with this performance. In something of a Daniel Day-Lewis manner, Hardy embodies this strange criminal mind. He is scary good at giving us good and scary. The narration peppered with laughter and empty stares is haunting and more intimidating than his strong, muscular build.
The film itself has “cult classic” capabilities, but not much more than that. There isn’t any rhyme or reason to anything that takes place over the course of the 92 minute film, and although it was intentional, the complete lack of character development is hard to take in. Hardy is the only saving grace of a film based on a true story that I would honestly much rather just read about than watch this film again.
2/4 – Despite a marquee performance from Tom Hardy, Bronson, the story of Britain’s most violent prisoner, is about as exciting as an actual day in prison.