Follow us on

Featured Blu-ray Review: Bronson

February 6th, 2010

Bronson - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

Bronson is a film about Michael Gordon Peterson, who rose from a normal childhood to become "Britain's most violent prisoner." The film opened in limited release here with reviews that were just below the 80% positive level usually associated with films that thrive in limited release, but close enough that it had a real chance. However, despite opening well, the film quickly disappeared from theaters. Did it deserve more, or did it only open well due to the controversy?

There's not much of a plot to discuss. The movie intercuts between monologues given by Michael Peterson / Charlie Bronson and reenactments of his crimes. We learn he came from a normal background, got into a lot of fights at school, eventually gets married, robs a post office, and is sentenced to seven years behind bars, which is only the beginning of his criminal activity. Aside from a stint spent in a mental hospital and a short time on the outside (as a bare knuckle fighter) he has spent most of his life in one prison or another, and that seems to be the way he likes it. He wants nothing more than to be famous, and he's determined to be famous by becoming the most violent prisoner in all of Britain.

Two points... Firstly, way to aim low. Secondly, and this is for the filmmakers, thanks for helping him.

The overall reviews for Bronson were strong and even most of the negative reviews gave praise to Tom Hardy's performance. However, I found it to be over the top, and not in a good way. I don't blame the actor, as this was clearly a choice of the filmmakers. And I'm not even saying the filmmakers made the wrong choice, as it was clearly necessary in their attempts to show his violence as performance art. But as a matter of taste, I found it uninteresting. For all of the violence in the movie, it is rather dull. We get no deep insight into this man's mind, other than it is clearly broken, and even the style gets repetitive too quickly. Without any insight into the man, the movie is pointless.

I don't have the DVD to review, but the Blu-ray has several extras, starting with monologues by Charlie Bronson set to images from the film and filming process. There is a 15-minute making-of featurette that is mostly talking heads. There is another featurette on the training Tom Hardy did to build up his physique. Quite short, but given his physical change, arguably the most interesting part of the movie. There are three interviews with a total running time of 48 minutes, which makes it the most in-depth part of the Blu-ray. Finally, there are 12 minutes of behind-the-scenes footage, but without interviews or commentary, it loses its context.

None of this feels like a Blu-ray exclusive, since none of it pushes the technology, but I can't say for sure without the DVD. (There is a BD-Live section, but all it says is "Check Back for Updates".) Additionally, the Blu-ray doesn't look or sound very good. The film is gritty, both in tone and in visual style. It might help the storytelling, but it doesn't show off High Definition's capabilities. As for the audio, it never really shines either. Granted, it is a dialogue driven movie, but I was hoping the surround speakers would be used to help the viewer feel in the fight, so to speak, but this never happened. Then again, the Blu-ray is cheaper than the DVD on Amazon.com.

The Verdict

Bronson does have a strong performance by Tom Hardy, but without any insight into his character, the movie was a chore for me to watch the first time and I won't be recommending it to anyone I know. However, I am in the minority here, so take that into account. It might be worth a rental, but grab a back up as well. Get a movie you know you will like, just in case you can't get through this one.

- Submitted by:

Filed under: Bronson