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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Biopic > Crime > Violence > British > Bronson (2009/Magnolia/MagNet Blu-ray)

Bronson (2009/Magnolia/MagNet Blu-ray)


Picture: B†††† Sound: B†††† Extras: C+†††† Film: C+



Nicolas Winding Refnís Bronson (2009) is the directorís attempt to do a smart, yet violent film and is the latest in the ever-occasional attempts to be the next variant of Stanley Kubrickís A Clockwork Orange (1971) telling the true story of a highly violent criminal who has named himself after the 1970s action star Charles Bronson.Not that the film does much with that, as it is obsessed with the failing proposition of Kubrickís work.


Tom Hardy (Layer Cake) plays that title character in a film that wants to be a surreal biopic.We learn in cross-cutting the life of Michael Gordon Peterson, who later became this most infamous killer.Hardy is very good, except when stylized moments hold back his performance.This film may be violent, but it is not raw enough to succeed and Refn may be putting too much of his money on Hardy.That never works.


Add that A Clockwork Orange has been endlessly imitated and is still being imitated all the time (extending to books, magazines, stills, fashions, Music Videos, et al) that Refn is also doomed in this respect.Even if the imitations were not a constant since 1972, this is far from the best of them and robs the film ultimately of telling this very interesting tale in its most powerfully potential terms.Often, the film landed up reminding me of the comedy Color Me Kubrick (also from MagNet, reviewed elsewhere on this site) further reminding us how distant this film is from the original.It is certainly worth a look, but donít believe al the hype.It does earn its R-rating, though.


Combining classical music with slow motion images, violence and well-lit images is not sufficient enough to make this Kubrickian.In addition, the overuse of the fantasy sequences where the title character talks to a full house of motionless audiences telling his life story on an old-fashioned stage of the past (Clockwork Orange meets Barry Lyndon?) is such overkill, it backfires.Audiences in Europe, Australia and New Zealand would not be at fault to expect Crowded House or Split Enz to show up and sing a medley with him.



The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image is grainier than expected because most of the film is shot in Super 16mm film with some Super 35mm usage.The result is that it wants to have it both ways by having clear, deep, vivid shots and still have the grain of modern films.This does not work and never enhances the storytelling in the least.Director of Photography Larry Smith actually worked with Stanley Kubrick on Barry Lyndon (as chief electrician) and The Shining (as gaffer), so it has that going for it.However, that does not save it.The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is warm and well recorded, but has some flaws and inconsistencies here and there, partly from its limited budget.Classical music and sound effects dominate the surrounds.


Extras include a trailer, Monologues, making of featurette, Training Tom Hardy featurette, Behind the Scenes footage and Interviews segment with Refn, Hardy and Actor Matt King.



-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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