A reoccurring question I get lately when discussing The Dark Knight Rises is who is Tom Hardy? Tom Hardy plays the main villain Bane in the film and as an actor he has been around for years. He was in Christopher Nolan’s last film Inception where he played Eames, the forger who helped Leonardo DiCaprio with the film’s main dream plan heist thing. He was also more recently in Warrior and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and he will be playing Mad Max in the new George Miller directed film Mad Max: Fury Road. But his best performance to date has to be Bronson.

Bronson(2008) is a film directed by Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive) and is the true story of Britain’s most violent prisoner Michael Gordon Peterson aka Charlie Bronson. The film is a stylish retelling of the life of Bronson. The movie is narrated by Bronson as he tells his story in front the camera (sort to the audience watching the film) and at times to a theatre full of people. In 1974 Bronson was arrested and convicted of a robbery for £26.18. He was given a sentence of seven years but his violent behavior inside extending that sentence to 14 years.

He has never killed anyone (not for a lack of trying) but he has spent, at the time the movie was made, 34 years in prison, 30 of them in solitary confinement. The film is essentially a one man show and Hardy’s portrayal of Bronson is magnificent. The man is just violently deranged and you can’t help but laugh at the absurdity of trouble that Bronson causes for himself.

Reading Wikipedia’s entry on Charles Bronson, there are some even more absurd stories about him that Refn didn’t bother to include in the movie like Bronson’s friendship with the notorious Krays (Reggie Kray wrote that Bronson was “the most frightening visit I had”.) My favourite is the incident in prison when an Iraqi hijacker bumped into Bronson and didn’t apologize to him so Bronson took him and another Iraqi hijacker hostage where “He sang and laughed and forced the Iraqis to tickle his feet and call him ‘General'”.

On side note, IMDb’s plot description for the movie is completely inaccurate. It says “A young man who was sentenced to 7 years in prison for robbing a post office ends up spending 30 years in solitary confinement. During this time, his own personality is supplanted by his alter ego, Charles Bronson. ” I’m not sure what movie they were watching but “his own personality is supplanted by his alter ego, Charles Bronson.” is not what happens at any point in this film. Not sure where they got it but it’s a very misleading plot description.