Bronson – 4 out of 5
This particular film has been sitting patiently on my Netflix queue for a few years now. At the behest of my friend—and by behest, I mean he kidnapped my pet turtle and told me I would get to see him alive if I finally watched Bronson. So, naturally, I did my best Mel Gibson impression and told him to give me back my turtle but then I ultimately caved and bumped the film to the told of the queue and popped it in the old DVD player. Until now, my only experience with the film (other than knowing what it was about and a cursory knowledge of the true events it speaks about) was this part that gave birth to one of my favorite .gifs ever...
Bronson is the movie adaptation of the 1979 television show about the wise-cracking butler—oh wait, that’s Benson and they never made a movie about it. Actually, Bronson is a bio-pic about Charles Bronson, the actor who starred in Death Wish X: Death Comes to Deliver Death to Deathtown—wait, that’s not right either. ACTUALLY, Bronson tells the story of Charles Bronson (not the actor of Death Wish XI: Death Waits for No One…Not Even Death) but a man who was actually born Michael Peterson and went on to take the name of the Death Wish XII: Death is Very Deathy star and became the most famous prisoner in the United Kingdom. He spent 34 years in jail and 30 of them in solitary confinement.
|And this man's face is the most famous in England for being the most English Face to ever exist.|
Tom Hardy (yep, Bane) stars as Peterson/Bronson as the film showcases the wicked insanity that was the man’s life and his desire to become a badass and a celebrity—a feat he achieved in a very twisted manner. The movie is one part dark comedy, one part biopic that is a quarter fantasy for the film’s sake (including a majority of the film’s narrative being introduced via a fictional one-man show hosted by Bronson or breaking of the 4th wall discussions), a quarter hard-honest truth and a half that is so fantastic, it probably has to be true.
|Later Bronson put on a mask and visited Gotham...|
Other than an extremely strong performance from Tom Hardy (honestly, is that even surprising? No, it’s expected because he’s that fucking good!) and an awesome dance from an extra (move over The Robot, I have a new dance move for the clubs!), the film’s strongest aspect was the dark comedy elements that constantly rides the line of flat out hilarious and “Am I going to hell for laughing?” moments that is the horror, tragedy and epic-tales that was Bronson’s life.
|Nobody's laughing...must be one of my comedy shows.|
The other element that I really enjoyed was the way the story was presented. At times, Hardy (as Bronson, duh) would be in a dark room in his prison uniform (the fact he’s clothed is important because he literally spends a majority of the final act of the film in the nude that includes a lot of scenes of fighting complete with flopping penis) talking directly to the audience about his life or, my favorite, would be the “one-man show” aspect.
|Not Pictured: Hardy's floppy fun stick.|
The real-life Peterson/Bronson wanted to be famous and ended up achieving it by being the most famous prisoner in all of England (maybe the world) so it’s no doubt in his head, he sees life as a performance and these segments really sell this idea. We see Hardy (once again as Bronson, duh) addressing an audience in a large theater. He cracks jokes about his tragedy and all the faces he bludgeoned with his fists and delivers the world’s most uncomfortable Vaudeville act to an audience that is, understandably, uncomfortable. These scenes are simple but quickly set the stage for the character that is Bronson and ends up becoming one of those “should I be laughing?” moments.
|Beating people's face in, something Bronson was very good at...|
Master the art of ties, not so much.
Even though I got my turtle back safe and sound (and then quickly remembered that I never even actually owned a turtle—who’s turtle did my friend kidnap?), I regret not watching Bronson sooner because it’s a tremendously entertaining and creative film that has a strong performance from Tom Hardy, a great story told with wit and satire, great music thrown into the audio track to help illustrate the bizarre feel of Bronson’s life and an overall hint of some of Guy Ritchie’s best work…and some great British profanity (I tell you, if there’s one thing the Brits do better than anyone else is swear).
|Enjoy this one more time in .gif form.|