Student Voice


February 3, 2023




'Bronson' is a dive into the life of Britain's most infamous prisoner

November 16, 2016

“Bronson” (2008) is a biopic about Charles Bronson (not to be confused with the actor of the same name), who is considered to be Britain's most violent and notorious prisoner.

It is directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, who has made two recent movies that I adore, “Drive” (2011) and “The Neon Demon” (2016). Tom Hardy plays the role of the infamous prisoner and does so extremely well.

The movie tells the story from the perspective of Bronson recalling his life up until present day; from his first bouts with the law as a teenager to getting married and having a son and finally going to prison for the first time. It then follows his life as he is transferred from prison to prison, fighting anyone he can along the way.

The story is interesting, as is the man. Bronson is an incredibly violent individual, taking any chance he can to fight guards, even assault other inmates in order to be transferred to different prisons if he dislikes his current one. The best part of the movie is around the middle when he is released from prison after his first sentence. This is where we get to see this odd and intimidating man get involved with underground bare knuckle boxing and even make an attempt at love.

He’s undoubtedly a very interesting character to watch and Tom Hardy pulls no punches in assuring that he is representing the actual Bronson with accuracy. He pulls the air out of the room when he is yelling, stopping anyone who opposes him dead in their tracks. You fear for anyone who is caught in the same room as him, and for good reason. Hardy also embodies the sheer physicality of the character who is well known for his superior strength and hardcore prison workout routine.

An interesting thing about this film is how the story is told as a stage act put on by Bronson. He is onstage acting for an audience while telling his life’s story, which is fitting of his superstar ego. It is played off as a comedy on stage, which is a great juxtaposition to the horror that is his prison life. He says early in the film that he always wanted to be famous but had no talents. It would seem that he has accomplished stardom to a certain extent.

As with any Nicolas Winding Refn film, this one is great to look at on a visual standpoint. However, like most of his work, it is more of an artistic film and not necessarily one you watch for a nonstop thrill ride so it might be a little slow or meandering to some viewers. There were a few scenes where I was exercising a little patience waiting for it to move along.

Personally, I watched this movie because I am a fan of Tom Hardy and adore Nicolas Refn’s work as a writer and director. Will that be enough for anyone else that watches this to be entertained? Possibly.

I will say again that Bronson is an incredibly interesting character to watch on screen, and his life makes for an entertaining movie. At a little over 90 minutes and currently streaming on Netflix, I see no reason for someone to not at least give it a shot.