Critics Consensus

Undeniably gripping, Bronson forces the viewer to make some hard decisions about where the line between art and exploitation lies.



Total Count: 80


Audience Score

User Ratings: 17,170
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Movie Info

In 1974, a misguided 19 year old named Michael Peterson decided he wanted to make a name for himself and so, with a homemade sawn-off shotgun and a head full of dreams he attempted to rob a post office. Swiftly apprehended and originally sentenced to 7 years in jail, Peterson has subsequently been behind bars for 34 years, 30 of which have been spent in solitary confinement. With an intelligent, provocative and stylized approach, "Bronson" (based on a true story) follows the metamorphosis of Mickey Peterson into Britain's most dangerous prisoner, Charles Bronson.


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Critic Reviews for Bronson

All Critics (80) | Top Critics (26) | Fresh (61) | Rotten (19)

  • This is psychotic behavior as performance art, and Hardy makes it irresistible.

    Jan 22, 2010 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Itâ(TM)s a meditation on the art of rage -- an action painting passing itself off as an action movie.

    Nov 24, 2009 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

    Ty Burr

    Boston Globe
    Top Critic
  • "Nuffin' wonky about my upbringing," Bronson says, early on. Nothing wonky about Hardy's performance, either.

    Nov 5, 2009 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • A pointless exercise in morbidity.

    Oct 30, 2009
  • Bronson is one of those "based on a true story" dramatizations where the theatrically staged drama only gets in the way of the more interesting truth.

    Oct 30, 2009 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
  • Refn presents this jolly madman in a variety of showbiz fantasies (wearing clown makeup, addressing a packed theater) to tease out the weird disjuncture between his penal isolation and his tabloid fame in the UK.

    Oct 30, 2009 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Bronson

  • Nov 15, 2016
    A very arty look (a nod to All That Jazz is not inappropriate) at a knucklehead sociopath who was Britain's most violent prisoner. Hardy is good at it, but the gist is rather horrorshow on the ultraviolence side (nod to Kubrick's masterpiece also appropriate).
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Jan 07, 2016
    Holding viewers in a balled fist, this beautiful fit of madness features some ace manipulation on the part of the director but make no mistake about it: the player's the thing. A performance piece about a performance piece, this slice of pitch-black comedy tries getting at the heart of darkness of a psychotic method actor who's taken on the role of murderer. Though not everybody's cup of team (think: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest meets F For Fake), this meta put-on defies you to look away. In this R-rated crime-drama from Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive), a young man sentenced to seven years in prison for robbing a post office ends up spending three decades in solitary confinement where his own personality gets supplanted by his alter-ego, Charles Bronson. Already demonstrating the A-Level immersive skills that would serve him well in Warrior, The Dark Knight Rises (as Bane), and Locke, among others, a believably vicious but charming Hardy proves utterly irresistible. Though the actor sits center stage, Refn holds the spotlight steady, pulling the Kubrickian strings of this dark and bitter but humorous character study. Bottom line: Crazy Eight to Ten
    Jeff B Super Reviewer
  • Sep 05, 2014
    If one thing's for certain, it is that Tom Hardy's unapologetic and powerhouse performance could lift walls. Winding Refn's introduction to UK territory oozed his more recent trademarks. Passing from being a hyperactive director of absorbing crime-oriented minimalism, he now began to develop a well-balanced frame that never lost its balance and aesthetic focus of things. Another trademark added to this was his use of amber illumination that used red, brown and yellow colors to accentuate particular devastating emotions. Not to imply that his previous style was better than his new one, it is a sign of Refn's versatility and his justification to provide a heavy percentage of style to the overall content of his films. This might not be approved by all, as things have indicated, but it is merely an artistic decision. His attempt to construct an autobiography of "Britain's most famous prisoner" falls short in certain aspects while attempting to outstand in others. For starters, this was a relentless vehicle of popularity for Tom Hardy to be considered as a serious actor. His portrayal of Charles Bronson irradiates brutality and ferocity, with no hesitation in front of the screen. Maybe it was a streak of luck for Refn for his style to correlate nicely with the bleakness of this autobiographical attempt along with Hardy's iconic image and physiognomic gestures probably inspired by Daniel Plainview's character in.<i>There Will Be Blood</i> (2007). I wouldn't say so. Refn knew how to apply an engaging visual style beforehand that could identify him as a director. Taking those elements aside, nothing much remains. The film is experimenting, which is something I applaud, but at times it once again tries to come back to sentimental territory which keeps distracting the viewer to the real intentions of the film. With this, the screenplay is uneven in quality and several character connections that Bronson establishes are left unfinished, which makes one think whether if telling Bronson's story was actually a viable idea storywise. Even the 92-minute length is a sign of this. Characters appear and disappear, not really caring about their lives. It is a central character study with more style than substance that was necessary for Refn to find his definitive stylistic approach in his more recent controversial deliveries starring Ryan Gosling. Nevertheless, certain sequences are entrancing to watch, particularly the opening scene, the "Lynchian" segments used to introduce certain acquaintances, and the interesting idea of utilizing an allegorical audience stage as an imaginary opportunity for Bronson to speak out ideas that he probably felt were left underappreciated regarding his own "philosophy of life" and view of things. 75/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer
  • Feb 23, 2014
    Directors C Super Reviewer

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