The logline on Netflix states:
“He’s a larger-than-life celebrity who’s known for one thing: being a criminal. And boy does he love it.”
Some people just like being bad. Well, Charles Bronson loves being bad all the time. This film is the biopic of Great Britain’s most notorious prisoner, Charles Bronson, who went to prison for robbing a post office for less than 15 dollars. Charged with a six-year sentence, the madness of Charles Bronson begins to ensue throughout the film.
From the get go of this film, we learn that prison is Bronson’s playground and that the outside world isn’t a place for him. He loves to be bad. The character development is excellent as we see Michael Peterson (his birth name) transforms to create his bare-knuckle fighting “Charles Bronson” alter-ego.
95% of biopics are atrocious in my opinion, but Bronson is brilliant because of the director’s on and off linear/non-linear storytelling along with his unique way of having Charles Bronson narrate his own life. If you like Tom Hardy then this is a film that put him on the map that propelled you to loving him in films like Lawless, The Dark Knight Rises, Inception and The Revenant.
This film has one of my favorite soundtracks in cinema. I actively seek out Winding-Refn films so I can explore new music. That is how good of a director he is. Shot for shot, this film is so strategically well done with its crisp camera angles, high color contrasts and strategically placed dialogue, which are all staples in Winding-Refn’s filmography.
This film is the closest movie that you will ever see that will compare to A Clockwork Orange. But, I prefer Bronson any day of the week over Kubrick’s classic because this is all based on a true story. The story of Charles Bronson isn’t enough to captivate an audience but the way Winding-Refn tells the story and Tom Hardy’s performance is more than enough to captivate you. The duo takes an average story of a crazy prisoner and turns it into a breathtaking experience.
Throughout the entire film, we want to know what makes this character tick. Winding-Refn gives you the pieces and ingredients to make your own conclusions of why but he doesn’t tell us because it is a wise choice not to tell us. Imagine if there would be a flashback of his childhood of some crazy experience telling us why he is as crazy as he is. It would totally upset me as a viewer to see that. Instead, the director wants to let us know that there are things beyond our ability to ever comprehend. Some people are just pure evil.
But, do you want to know my interpretation? Well, Charles Bronson is a powerful creative mind who creates astounding paintings during his time in prison. He has such creative energy in his brain that he does not know how to channel it properly and that is why he acts the way he does. But, once he is in prison, he learns to properly channel that madness into his artwork. Being a crazy artist is what this films explanation is.
Imagine if there was one teacher at his school who would have understood that with young Michael Peterson, introducing him to art and paintings instead of disciplining him and reprimanding him in front of his classmates.
He could have been Britain’s most notorious artist, not its most famous prisoner.