Review: Bronson

Written by: Dee Pilgrim


Tom Hardy is fast becoming one of Britain’s most versatile young actors, switching between roles as charmers (Handsome Bob in RocknRolla) and killers and psychopaths with seeming ease.

As Britain’s most notorious violent prisoner, Charles Bronson, he is simply awesome; and his transformation from slim actor to muscle-packed, shaven-headed menace is astonishing.

Tom Hardy in Bronson

Tom Hardy in Bronson

In 1974, at the age of 19 Michael Peterson (as he was then known) was sentenced to seven years in prison for armed robbery. But since then, after some brief spells of freedom, he has spent his life behind bars because of his inability to control his violent streak.

Does Charlie provoke violence, or does violence follow him around? It’s a question that the film never answers (although it shows his violence in graphic detail, so those who are squeamish may find some scenes disturbing). Even when Charlie takes up art and is given more freedom to mix with other prisoners, something once again sparks his inner demons into life and he ends up holding the art teacher hostage – a misdemeanour deemed so serious he is now held in solitary confinement.

However, rather than just portray Bronson as some wild-eyed, raving mad man, Hardy brings his undoubted intelligence to the fore, producing a complex, layered performance that certainly doesn’t explain away the man’s actions, but certainly gives you pause for thought.

This performance is so central to the film (and so outstanding) it almost makes up for the structure of the movie – where we often see Charlie as a vaudeville or music hall artiste on stage, playing to his audience. This doesn’t really add anything to the story and a straightforward telling of what Bronson has done and had done to him may have served the film better.




Author: Dee Pilgrim

Dee always knew she wanted to make her living from writing and so trained as a journalist before working for a variety of music and women’s titles including Sounds, Company, Cosmopolitan, Ms London, New Woman, and Girl About Town. After going freelance she concentrated on celebrity interviews and film, theatre, music and restaurant reviews. Her love of film goes back to her very first cinema experience at the age of five when her mother took her to see Bambi. She cried. At one time she was the Film Editor for NOW magazine and also the secretary for the film section of the Critics’ Circle and the celebrity coordinator for its annual film awards’ event. She has written a number of books for teenagers through Trotman Publishing, including five Real Life Guides to vocational careers (including Carpentry, Plumbing and Catering), and also three books on Real Life Issues (Money, Bereavement and Self Harm). Her favourite film is still Bladerunner.

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Responses to Review: Bronson

  1. anita keefeNo Gravatar

    will bronson be released in the USA. Tom Hardy has quite a following here.

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