This film chronicles the life and times of the "most violent prisoner in Britain", one Michael Peterson aka Charles Bronson. It's an interesting biopic starring Tom Hardy as the thuggish yet entertaining Bronson casting the character in the light of a showman telling his story in a sort of one man show before an imaginary audience.
Michael Peterson was a Welsh born hooligan who ran afoul of the law and was imprisoned in 1974 for armed robbery. He received a sentence of seven years but that was extended multiple times due to his constant assaults on guards. During his stay as a guest of Her Majesty's Prison Service, he was transferred over 120 different times leading to his institutionalization at Broadmore Maximum Security Hospital where he took several hostages and held a 47-hour long standoff with police from the roof of the hospital, causing more than £750,000 worth of damage to the hospital making him the most expensive prisoner Britain had ever hosted. So they certified him sane and released him. For the next sixty-nine days, Peterson took up with a former inmate who promoted illegal, bare-knuckle fights and Peterson changed his name to Charles Bronson to improve his image in the fights but was imprisoned again after he robbed a jewelry store to impress a woman. And except for another brief period of freedom in 1992, he has remained behind bars, much of that time in solitary confinement because of his combative nature.
The amazing thing about this film is not the basic character of Charles Bronson, but rather how they go about crafting a narrative around the individual, where the style of the storytelling is more impressive than the story itself. There are scenes where Hardy is dressed in a beautiful suit, painted up in pancake make-up and black paint before a theater full of tuxedoed and evening gowned spectators with classical music playing and those scenes are absolutely beautiful in a mad sort of way. I mean, there is nothing all that likable about Bronson from a surface value, and yet this is an absolute joy to watch.