Lock ‘Bronson’ Up and Throw Away the Key

bronsonIt’s a shame that Tom Hardy’s performance in “Bronson” doesn’t have an adequate story to contain it. Although Hardy manages to hit all the right notes throughout his portrayal of a real-life British hothead who has been behind bars since 1974, this material doesn’t give him any structure, and for everything he puts into his performance, he’s left high and dry in a movie that goes nowhere. All we’re left with is a worthy character who puts up with a series of underwhelming episodes, like Hannibal Lecter on an uneventful day.

Of course, when you’re dealing with somebody who has spent more than three decades in solitary confinement, things are bound to get tedious after a while. Apart from his spontaneous attacks on prison guards and inmates caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, the most interesting thing about him is his name – he managed to stay out of prison long enough to fight people for cash under the name Charles Bronson, and was so absorbed in his alter ego that his birth name, Michael Peterson, became a mere afterthought.

He was originally sentenced to seven years behind bars for a failed holdup at a post office, but eventually got put away for good in solitary when he became too much to handle. The road to solitary was a disgraceful one: He made an attempt on another prisoner’s life after he said something that rubbed Bronson the wrong way, and became infamous for making guards hostages just to send a message to the prison governor (Jonathan Phillips). He got used to life in prison pretty quickly, though – at one point, he says his cell feels like a hotel room.

That’s pretty much the gist of what happens in this film: Bronson saunters around in claustrophobic circles in his cell, interrupted by the occasional sedative whenever he becomes irritated. What’s funny is that for him, life’s an action movie – his nickname seems apt in light of Charles Bronson’s roles in “Death Wish,” “The Dirty Dozen” and other movies that barely stood any chance of sliding past the censors. The real Charles Bronson also made a splash in “The Great Escape” as a prisoner of war who helps devise a plan to break out of a German camp during World War II, which isn’t the kind of film you’d want to pass along to somebody who’s better off behind bars.

About David Guzman 207 Articles
I just received my degree in journalism at Brooklyn College, where I served as the arts editor for one of the campus newspapers, the Kingsman. When it comes to the arts, I’ve managed to cover a variety of subjects, including music, films, books and art exhibitions. I’ve reviewed everything from “Slumdog Millionaire” (which was a good film) to “Coraline,” (which wasn’t) and I’ve also interviewed legendary film critic Leonard Maltin.

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