Mickey Peterson, Charles Ali Ahmed, Charles Salvador: these are all names by which Britain’s most notorious prisoner has been known. However, one name stands far higher than the rest: Bronson.
Bronson is an examination of one man’s desire to be famous, and what he’ll do to achieve what he wants. The odds are stacked against him, though, as he ends up spending the majority of his adult life locked up. Fame, then, is off the cards. Infamy? That might be doable.
Bronson is essentially a character study of one of the most notorious British prisoners ever. So, when I find that one of the most common criticisms about the film is its lack of any discernible plot, I can’t help but get a little annoyed. Sure, saying the Bronson is devoid of a clear story would be fine if it was supposed to have one. But it’s not, and although the second act of the movie does have some semblance of a story, the narrative never gets more complex than that. And for those who know better, it doesn’t need to.
Anyway, rant over.
Bronson is part film, part play, and no scene makes this more apparent than that in which Hardy, playing Bronson on stage, reenacts a conversation between himself and female prison guard. There Hardy stands, one side of him in Bronson garb, the other painted like a 1920’s mime adorned with talon-like nails. It’s wonderfully comic, and is perhaps the perfect representation of just how batshit and brilliant the whole thing is.
Director Nicholas Winding Refn’s trademark use of bright colours combined with a synthwave soundtrack also consolidates the film’s offbeat personality – y’know, just in case Tom Hardy’s performance doesn’t get that across enough.
Characters? More like character, singular, because as the film makes clear from the start, Bronson is very much a one-man show. It goes without saying that Hardy’s performance is fantastic, managing to be captivating, terrifying and awe-inspiring all at once. It’s so good, in fact, it even won praise from the man himself, calling Hardy “Britain’s number one actor”… for what it’s worth.
In a few words…
A fantastically offbeat portrayal of one of the UK’s most notorious prisoners.