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  • Writer's pictureThomas Duncan

Bronson (2009) ft. Bo Roberts

Updated: Dec 9, 2023


Guest: Bo Roberts, Director (The Great Awakening (2021) available on Tubi)


Cast:

  • Nicolas Winding Refn, Director/Writer

  • Brock Norman Brock, C0-Writer

  • Tom Hardy as Michael Gordon Peterson / Charles Bronson

  • Matt King as Paul Daniels

  • James Lance as Phil Danielson

  • Amanda Burton as Charlie's mother

  • Kelly Adams as Irene Peterson

  • Juliet Oldfield as Alison

  • Jonathan Phillips as the Prison Governor

  • Mark Powley as Prison Officer Andy Love

  • Hugh Ross as Uncle Jack

*Recognition:

  • Bronson was wide-released on March 13, 2009 after originally debuting at the BFI London Film Festival in 2008.

  • The film grossed roughly $2.3 million on an estimated budget of $230,000.

  • Bronson is a mostly true biographical film of the so-called "Most Violent Criminal in the UK".

  • Reviews of the time were mostly positive specifically citing Tom Hardy's work as the title character as being what stood out.

  • Bronson currently holds a 76% among critics on RT, a 71 score on Metacritic, and a 3.6 out of 5 on Letterboxd.

What is this movie about/Elevator Pitch: It's a voyueristic look at someone grossly unlike ourselves who is predisposed to insanity and violence, but never shows us why but rather how.


Plot Summary: Michael Gordon Peterson comes from a stable, middle-class family in Britain. Yet, he starts his adult married life by committing a crime leading to a sentence of seven years in prison. While in prison, he rebels and spends the next several years between a psychiatric hospital, prison, and solitary confinement. With a release from prison, he soon becomes a bare-knuckle boxer at the urging of an old prison mate who dubs Peterson with the new name Charles Bronson. Finding his way back to prison, he undertakes a series of violent endeavors, each more violent and bizarre. Will Bronson be broken, will he break the system, or will no one win in this game of violence versus conformity to the rules?


Did You Know:

  • Charles Bronson was not initially allowed to see the film, but said that if his mother liked it, that would be enough for him. According to Refn, his mother loved it. In 2011 Bronson was finally allowed to see the film and called it "theatrical, creative and brilliant".

  • Charles Bronson shaved off his moustache and sent it to Tom Hardy so that it could be made into a loose-moustache for Hardy to wear.

  • The line "it was absolute madness at its very best" was written by Charles Bronson himself for the film and told to Nicolas Winding Refn during one of their phone calls.

  • Nicolas Winding Refn was not allowed to meet Charles Bronson in person since he is not from Britain, but was allowed to have two phone calls with him. Tom Hardy met with Bronson several times and the two became good friends. Bronson was impressed with how Hardy managed to get just as muscular as he was and how well he could mimic his own personality and voice. Bronson has stated he believes Hardy was the only person who could play him.

  • Bronson is occasionally seen wearing a small pair of shades. These are not an accessory. According to the real-life Bronson, his years in poorly-lit solitary units so damaged his eyesight that he required darkened lenses just to read.

  • Although Michael "Charles Bronson" Peterson thoroughly enjoyed the film, he did criticize the portrayal of him as an avid enthusiast of prison life. He has gone on record to state that he absolutely hates prison and suffered physical and mental trauma from his time served.

Best Performance: Tom Hardy (Bronson)

Best Secondary Performance: Johnny Jewel (Composer)/Nicholas Winding Refn (Director/Writer)

Most Charismatic Award: Tom Hardy (Bronson)/Matt King (Paul Daniels)

Best Scene:

  • Cold Open Combat with the Guards

  • Psychiatric Hospital Escape

  • When Murder Goes Wrong

  • Uncle Jack's Cocktail Party

  • Bare-Knuckle Fighting

  • Meeting the Warden

  • Art Class

  • Danielson Kidnapped

  • Bronson Takes Danielson Hostage

Favorite Scene: Art Class/Meeting the Warden/Bare-Knuckle Fighting

Most Indelible Moment: Cold Open/Danielson Kidnapped


In Memorium:

  • Tom Whitlock, 68, American songwriter ("Danger Zone", "Take My Breath Away", "Winner Takes It All")

  • Jansen Panettiere, 28, American actor (The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry, The Perfect Game, Robots); brother of Hayden Panettiere.

  • Barbara Bosson, 83, American actress (Hill Street Blues, The Last Starfighter, Murder One), six-time Emmy nominee.

  • Tim McCarver, 81, American baseball player (St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies) and broadcaster (Fox Sports).

  • Richard Belzer, 78, American actor (Homicide: Life on the Street, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, The Flash), comedian, and author.

  • Stella Stevens, 84, American actress (Girls! Girls! Girls!, The Nutty Professor, The Poseidon Adventure).

Best Lines/Funniest Lines:

Charles Bronson: You don't want to be trapped inside with me sunshine. Inside, I'm somebody nobody wants to fuck with do you understand? I am Charlie Bronson, I am Britain's most violent prisoner.


Uncle Jack: Ladies and Gentlemen in Ladies Attire.


Charles Bronson: My name is Charles Bronson. All my life I wanted to be famous. I knew I was made for better things. I had a calling. I just didn't know what it is. Wasn't singing. I can't fucking act. Kinda running out of choices really, aren't we?


Charles Bronson: You shouldn't mess with boys that are bigger than you.


Charles Bronson: Right! I got a Librarian up here, and he's in a lot of trouble.


Charles Bronson: [Bronson getting paid after his first fight] 20 quid? You're having a fucking laugh, ain't cha?

Paul: Oh spare me the Oliver Twist routine, Charlie love. You need to build your audience.

Charles Bronson: I gave you fucking magic in there!

Paul: Magic? You just pissed on a gypsy in the middle of fucking nowhere. Hardly the hottest ticket in town, darling.

Charles Bronson: Alright, when's the next one?


The Stanley Rubric:

Legacy: 4.33

Impact/Significance: 5.33

Novelty: 6.5

Classic-ness: 7.5

Rewatchability: 6.5

Audience Score: 7.7 (80% Google, 74% RT)

Total: 37.86


Remaining Questions:

  • Does Bronson now need and/or rely on the prison system to give him purpose?

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