Though it doesn't lack for style, I'm not really sure whether Bronson is fascinating, or merely dressed up exploitation. Starring Tom Hardy as the U.K.'s most notorious criminal, Refn's film, much like A Clockwork Orange, does not have a likable protagonist. Bronson is deranged, for reasons never really explained. Instead, we're treated to scenes of Bronson's years in and out of prison, framed with the character talking directly to the camera, and to an audience as he stands on a stage in white make-up. Refn certainly has a panache that elevates the execution above the ordinary; it's theatrical, but still grounded in gritty details. Unfortunately, Refn and Brock Norman Brock's (yes, that's really his name) screenplay is much too thin to completely sustain viewer interest, even though the film is only 1 hr 25 minutes. And as for Tom Hardy, as much as the story provides ample opportunity as an acting showcase, there's little that the actor brings to the role other than dedication. With such superficial direction and writing, Hardy can't overcome the film's shortcomings. He's certainly dynamic, and he burrows into the character's physicality quite effectively, but at the end of the day it's not enough to pick up the slack. Bronson isn't a failure, but it is a missed opportunity, devoid of entertainment value and/or character study.
Grade: The Movie: C+/Tom Hardy: B-/Style: A