Bronson

Bronson

Highly stylized biopic of criminal Michael Peterson, who later rechristened himself Charles Bronson and quickly earned a reputation as Britain's most violent prisoner. A belligerent, eccentric testosterone (and publicity) generator, Bronson's life outside of prison was brief and unmemorable: in the film, this unrepentant thug - portrayed brilliantly by English actor Tom Hardy - will have you believe that he prefers life in jail, which he likens to a "hotel" and uses as his own personal boxing ring.

Naturally, the man appears to be a lunatic, and Refn and Hardy are clearly having the time of their lives documenting this outlandish character. It's very much a one-man show for Hardy (known in the States as the skinny villain Shinzon in the maligned Star Trek Nemesis - he gained 40 pounds of muscle for this role), but Danish director Refn is showing off his chops as well, with wild angles, theatrical lighting, and references to the work of Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, and even Peter Greenaway.

Bronson is definitely a visual experience, and I strongly suggest watching it on a large screen in a darkened room. Some might find its presentation pretentious at times - always an issue with contemporary British films - but I defy you to look away from Hardy's magnetic performance. This film may do for his career what the similar (in subject matter if not in style) Australian movie Chopper did for an up-and-coming actor named Eric Bana. I just hope that Tom Hardy can continue to deliver such meaty, intense performances, unlike Bana's bland post-Chopper work.