I do not have a lot of time now, so I will try to wrap this up relatively quickly. All the better if I can have a review out on a Saturday this early on.
Tom Hardy has a reputation of being an incredible actor, among the most prestigious of this generation. Of the films I have seen him in in which he plays a major role (two or three), I’ve never found him to be a real “showstopper.” He seemed to do his job adequately and everything was chipper. After watching Bronson, I have found what many from ten years prior had already known: Tom Hardy is fantastic.
Such a visceral film, too. A complicated (and apparently true!) look at the psyche of a man who was seemingly born for the public’s fantasy of the prison system. Violent, controlling, and borderline insane, Mr. Bronson is a fascinating figure to follow, and whether everything here is as true to life as its based-in-real-life roots, it matters little to the spectacle displayed onscreen. Hardy is, as mentioned before, fantastic in the leading role, as none come even close to the level of showmanship he provides.
It’s a little aimless around the middle, however. Another film by this specific director I’ve seen is Drive, of which I thought very similarly to this film, sans a great lead (sorry, Gosling). There’s a great sense of style and outright anarchy attached to the film that makes it nearly unpredictable. With that, though, comes a balancing act of establishing a realistic world to go along with it during the downtime, and it’s shaky here, I think. The scenes where Bronson is out of jail feel almost unnecessary, though definitely aid in the further complication of his character. Also like Drive, many of the other characters feel like throwaways, in that they can be tossed out of the story and little would change. These films seem to revolve around the lead performer, though with Bronson it is much more so, especially since the starpower is of a more minute scale.
From a mainstream standpoint, this isn’t really one that anyone can go into and immediately derive pleasure from it. I could definitely foresee a lot of people looking at this as a trash (sort of) biopic that glamorizes prison and the criminally insane, but I like to think there’s more to it than that. On the “artsy-fartsy scale” (of which I hold all the patents to), it’s definitely around the orange area, with red as the highest and blue the very lowest. Despite this, there’s enough grounded in reality to hold people’s attention, but the final scene could definitely be a head-scratcher for many.
I liked it quite a bit, though it wasn’t anything I would hop on top of my rooftop and scream to the heights of the heavens for. Tom Hardy is phenomenal and I think the humanification(?) of a very fucked-up dude who thrives for his own sense of identity makes for a compelling picture. There’s much about how one could interpret his character based on his location, his actions, and his relationships with others. If not for him and this acute focus, I don’t think there’s much for the film to stand on. If one is feeling off-kilter, this one’s a definite hit. Otherwise, one could always watch for Tom Hardy’s cock, which is apparently a strong selling point.
Final Score: 7/10
The rating for all other films can be found at Letterboxd.
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Thank you for your time. Have a great day.