NWR’s sixth feature length marked his definite departure from the Pusher trilogy as he crafted the most creative biopic I’ve ever seen, on par with Todd Hayne’s I’m Not There. Exploring the life of Britain’s most violent prisoner, Bronson is a very unconventional biopic that almost feels as if Charles Bronson himself had crafted it, jumping from one place to another, exaggerating characters, breaking the fourth-wall, etc. Bronson is a unique piece of maddening creativity.
Apart from NWR’s creative take on the life of Charles Bronson, the other reason this film works so well is because of Tom Hardy’s magnetic performance in which he exemplifies everything that makes this man so oddly intriguing. Plus, I believe this is the character NWR has most understood how to portray in a film, as he directs the film as if Bronson was in control the whole time, tying in grand musical pieces to the scenes of Bronson beating up people, trying to skip over the most crushing moments of his life, halting the film to let Hardy as Bronson go on rants about the unfairness of his life in prison, or showcasing everything that he considers one of his grand achievements under a very theatrical display. This film hinges on the perfect representation of what’s going on in Bronson’s mind and that’s exactly what it does, focusing its complete attention on the antics Bronson did and why, sure there’s some other recurring characters but for the majority of the film we’re left alone with Charles Bronson as he thinks about what he wants to do next. Matt King plays a really odd character to say the least and Jonny Philips an overbearing prison governor who feels like the Scooby-Doo’s Gang to Bronson’s monster. Yet all of these other characters can be defined by a single trait, almost as if Bronson was recollecting on his memories and pin-pointing each one to adjectives that described their attitude towards him, which is why you get the pure weirdness out of King or pure fake-pretentiousness from James Lance’s Phil, which all leads us back to focus on Bronson, which is probably what Charles Bronson would’ve wanted if he had directed this film. As weird as it sounds to say this, Bronson feels like an homage to him rather than a biopic.
I mentioned Tom Hardy was great, but I need to stress that some more because he is astonishing in this role. Bulking up to resemble the ultra-muscular man that Bronson is real-life, perfectly honing in on the mannerisms that the character retained and his ability to go from 0 to 100 in less than a second, Tom Hardy’s portrayal of Bronson is something to witness as it almost reaches the perfect representation of an insanely complex character. As it goes without saying with many NWR films, I must note that there is some pretty cool use of synth music here too. With that said, Bronson is a fantastically creative biopic that feels as if it were Bronson’s self resurrected onto film, leaving me to rate it an 87 out of 100.