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Bronson 2008 ***

Tom Hardy’s career breakthrough came in Nicolas Winding Refn’s muscular film about Charles Bronson, one of the UK’s most notorious criminals, and his 34 year stay at Her Majesty’s Pleasure. With his shaved head and pumped-up body, Hardy’s hard man is contextualized in a high-art series of face-off again prison bosses. Refn brings a lively theatricality to a tale that could have been told in a more gritty, straightforward tabloid-style, and he garnishes the result with the unpredictable burst of extreme violence that peppered Drive and Only God Forgives. Bronson doesn’t glamorize its hero, but presents him as an obsessed, troubled individual, with Hardy rising to the challenge of putting flesh on Bronson’s bones.

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