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He Said, She Said Review Site


What He said:


“Charles Bronson” was born Michael Gordon Peterson. He stopped going by his birth name in attempt to make a name for himself. You see, Bronson is obsessed with being famous and the name Michael Peterson isn’t going to get anybody’s attention, so he decides to adopt the name of the actor at the suggestion of his “manager”.

Bronson (Tom Hardy) has a problem though. He can’t sing, dance, act, or do anything else that might gain him with his goal of being famous. So he gets the bright idea to gain notoriety by becoming a criminal. I guess this was the best alternative his only two functioning brain cells could come up with? Well to no one’s surprise, he gets caught and is sentenced to seven years in prison at the age of 22.


While not the way you would advise a young person to start their adult life, getting sent to the big house for robbery is something you can recuperate from, especially at a young age. It’s not murder, manslaughter, or something that automatically ruins your life.

Bronson isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer though and instead of keeping his nose clean in prison, he does the exact opposite. You see, he still has that desire to be famous, and he figures the best way to do that is to make a name for himself in prison. He does just about everything he can to get the attention of the people in charge. He picks fights with other prisoners, guards, takes hostages, stages protests, etc., He is very violent and unpredictable. As a result he is transferred to several different facilities over the course of his sentence. Prisons, mental institutions, solitary confinement, general population, they try it all with this guy.

Well they get fed up with him and decided to release him. He has cost the government so much money that they declare him sane and let him go (he served more than his original sentence at this point anyway, but wasn’t exactly fit for life on the outside).


What does a guy like this do when he gets released from prison? He enters the world of bareknuckle boxing; which actually still exists in parts of London amongst gypsies and other similar wonderful folk. Bronson will fight anything or anyone too. One guy, two guys, dogs, you name it, he will fight it.

That’s not all he has been doing since  being released. After falling in love with a girl named Alison (Juliet Oldfield), he decides that he wants to propose to her, so he knocks off a jewelry store to get her an engagement ring. He’s eventually caught and sent back to prison. Did I mention this was only his 69th day of freedom from his previous sting in prison? Yeah, he lasted a whopping 69 days before he landed himself back in the big house.

Once he’s back in jail it’s kind of a wash, rinse repeat type of thing with this guy. That’s the problem with this movie – it’s kind of repetitive. Bronson beats people up, fools people into thinking he’s reformed, he’s given just a long enough leash, and then reverts to his former behavior. Too much of the movie is spent on the same type of activity. Maybe that’s what the guy did in real life (it’s based on a true story), but there’s got to be a more interesting way of presenting the story.


The other part of the movie is spent delving into the psychological aspect of the mad man that is “Charles Bronson”.  A lot of time is spent inside his head, which is fine, but I found that the movie focused more on style than substance. I like Cops, watch a decent amount of prison documentaries on National Geographic, and find the observation of such lunacy fascinating. No matter how many times I see it, it baffles and amazes me that people can de-evolve into such a primitive, violent, and frankly weird state. So the premise is there, but the execution came off too much like artsy just for the sake of being artsy.

It’s a shame, because I think Tom Hardy’s performance is solid but the movie itself was boring and repetitive.  I wanted to check this movie out because I think Hardy has a very intimidating presence, and liked Drive (directed by the same guy), but I find this movie tough to sit through.

Rating: Thumbs down.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure in February 3, 2014.