“I’m just a bloody normal bloke. A normal bloke who likes a bit of torture”.
Chopper is a visceral retelling of a nation’s famous criminal, told from the perspective of the criminal himself and therefore comparisons to Bronson are not only natural, but obvious. Too obvious in fact to spend any more time on; suffice to say it isn’t as good as Refn’s 2008 masterpiece, but an impressive debut from Dominik nonetheless.
Though his narrative is adapted from the prisoner’s best-selling autobiographies, Dominik doesn’t present the life of Mark “Chopper” Read, but the exaggerated, darkly comical person the author presents to the world within his novels. The film’s hyper violent sequences and the lead character’s seemingly superhuman strength highlight the emphasised persona Read created, as he himself repeats throughout the film, to build his reputation within the prison and across Australia.
Above everything else the true highlight of this film is the frighteningly disturbing performance from a bulky Eric Bana. The volatile, explosive and intimidating character he presents in his career-defining performance is the result of fastidious attention to detail; it is well documented that he read the autobiographies and spent time with the real Mark Read to learn more about his role.
On the surface, Chopper could easily be misread as glorification of the central character and his violence, however due to the fantastic characterisation, impressive direction and the ferocious spontaneity of the violence the audience are constantly reminded that this is an utterly despicable character.