Combustible Celluloid
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With: Tom Hardy, Matt King, James Lance, Kelly Adams, Amanda Burton, Hugh Ross, Juliet Oldfield, Joe Tucker, James Lance, Andrew Forbes, Edward Bennett-Coles, Katy Barker
Written by: Nicolas Winding Refn, Brock Norman Brock
Directed by: Nicolas Winding Refn
MPAA Rating: R for violent and disturbing content, graphic nudity, sexuality and language
Running Time: 92
Date: 10/01/2008

Bronson (2009)

3 Stars (out of 4)

The Dirty Cousin

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn (the Pusher series, Fear X) crafts this deliberately Kubrickian tale of a free-spirited English prisoner, who constantly behaves in the most abominable way, merely -- it seems -- to amuse himself. (It's a second cousin to A Clockwork Orange.)

Tom Hardy -- with a bald head and big moustache -- gives a terrific performance in the lead role, a sinister, ferocious soul who adopts the name of "Charlie Bronson" to make himself sound meaner and tougher. Importantly, Charlie never actually murders anyone; he beats up a lot of people and steals things, but never crosses that killer line. He gets transferred from regular prisons to wards for the criminally insane, but decides he prefers prison.

Refn directs as a series of episodes, each set up for maximum weirdness and black humor, always emphasizing large, blocky spaces and fluid motion. (His camera operator is Larry Smith, a Kubrick veteran.) But it's Hardy himself, moving in explosive, unpredictable ways, who keeps this film on its toes.

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