Starring: Tom Hardy, Kelly Adams, Matt King 

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

Writers: Brock Norman Brock

Cinematography: Larry Smith

Original Score: Various Artists

Running Time: 92 mins.

There are very few crevice’s of the British underworld which film-makers have yet to plunder, so it comes as something of a shock to find that this is the first time the infamous Charles Bronson (the criminal who took his name from the Death Wish star) has been portrayed on the big screen. Jailed at 21 for stealing no more than £30.00 from a local post office, Bronson, christened Michael Gordon Peterson, was jalied for 7 years initially, spending his life inside ever since, becoming Britains most notorious criminal despite having never killed anyone.

What Bronson did do was move from prison to prison (most of which was spent in solitary), via a mental institute and a very brief four month period of freedom in which he became an amateur boxer. So plenty of plot there for any film-maker to sink his teeth into, and a plum of a role for the right actor. One of these opportunities is gripped and gleamed for all it’s worth, while the other falls flat in trying just too hard to be different, so if I told you there was a bravura performance from Tom Hardy, and a largely messy directorial approach from Winding Refn, there’s no prizes for guessing who succeeds and who doesn’t.

Hardy, who has slowly built himself up with roles in Star Trek: Insurrection and RocknRolla has never managed to find that role to make him the star he deserves to be, with such range (witness Star Trek and Bronson, and you will see 2 none so different performances). Were Bronson not such a narrative mish-mash there is no denying that here he would have really garnered the attention he needs, though this is a film that was well recieved in a number of the European film festivals so he may well have success yet.

Winding Refn, though is unlikely to gain the same plaudits, meaning that Bronson is very much a film of two halves, for as good as Tom Hardy is as Bronson he is one fantastic element slotted into what is a rather messy film, Winding Refn seemingly unable to settle on how he wants to tell Bronson’s story in employing far too many narrative devices, with the Vaudeville stage idea feeling totally out of sync. Shot through in a dream-like style means that plot becomes sidelined in favour of a scattershot approach of seperate incidences, bizzaire considering how meaty Bronson’s story could have been, originality is good, but not at the expense of the entire film.


Tom Hardy’s tour-de-force performance is fantastic but gets lost amidst messy direction and no clear narrative, menaing Bronson becomes a wasted opportunity made even more disappointing because of the potential.