Bronson (2008)

9.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 10/10

Great acting by Hardy, great looking

So-so story takes a lot of unbelievable liberties that are outweighed by acting and style

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Bronson

Studio:  Aramid Entertainment

Genre(s):  Drama/Comedy

Release Date(s):  October 2008 (BFI London Film Festival)/March 13, 2009 (UK)

MPAA Rating:  R


Smile! Bronson will entertain you!

Michael Gordon Peterson (Tom Hardy) is the biggest and baddest man in the United Kingdom’s prison system…just ask him, he’ll tell you.  Landing in the prison system after a robbery and being committed to an insane asylum, Peterson doesn’t let anyone tell him what he can do or when he can do it, which becomes a massive cost to the taxpayers dealing with him as the broken bodies pile up.  Naming himself after Charles Bronson, Michael Gordon Peterson likes to fight…a lot.

Written and directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, Bronson is a semi-biographical story about the United Kingdom’s “most dangerous inmate” Michael Gordon Peterson (aka Charles Bronson aka Charles Salvador).  The movie was released to both critical acclaim for its look and style, but also recognition for Tom Hardy’s portrayal of Bronson.


An artist at heart

I had heard Bronson was great, but never saw it.  With more praise after the release of Drive, I finally sought it out…and wished I had done it sooner.

Obviously with a true story, liberties are often taken and the movie does take a lot of liberties with Peterson’s tale.  Things like his temporary release and event order are played with and many just didn’t honestly happen.  I often have a problem with this format of storytelling, but Bronson is such an unreal character that you have a hard time believing that the story can be true (and it could be assumed that since he is a braggart, he would embellish his own tale).


No one parties like a madhouse!

The movie owes much of its success to the great actor Tom Hardy.  Tom Hardy is a really odd actor.  Actors like Tom Hardy who often play the musclebound lunkheads aren’t usually the best actors.  The movie was originally intended for Jason Strantham so it could easily have gone the other way.  Hardy instead put on a bunch of muscle, became friends with the real Charles Bronson, and gave a great performance.  He gets the brash, bravado style needed for the role and really turns the man into a character…often physically due to long stand-up style scenes which allows for more extreme visions of the subject.


No…nothing screwed up about this guy

These visions of Bronson also looks fantastic.  I really like Refn’s imagery in films, and Bronson feels like it borrows its style and storytelling from A Clockwork Orange.  The tone of the film is humorous and dark at the same time and the large sets (which almost contrast the idea of prison.  The characters and location have an almost surreal feel that just contrast the actual story.

Bronson is a great film.  The movie feels like it should be extremely violent and gross, but Bronson does seem to have a code of ethics (which he flaunts) and most of the fighting is brutal bare fisted boxing instead of murder and mayhem often found in violent films.  I am sure this paints Bronson as a more likeable guy than he really is, but you will find Bronson surprisingly charming…if he is not beating your face in.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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