The film, which is mad by the way, mad but good, directed by the Danish film-maker Nicolas Winding Refn and written by the British screenwriter Brock Norman Brock, eschews the geezer-porn approach of incorrigible bad lads and glamorised violence. Instead the movie takes a stylised and aesthetic angle. The film posits that all the violence, the mayhem, the hostage-taking and the naked brawling were in fact Peterson’s creative outlet. “I had a calling, ” he says at the beginning of the film. “I just didn’t know what as.”
Bronson not only narrates his story to camera, he performs it, in the film’s most surreal device — on a stage in front of an adoring audience — spotlit and painted to look like the scariest clown in history. The film argues that Charlie Bronson was not just Peterson’s fighting moniker, it was both his stage name and his greatest work of art. It’s an intriguing premise and possibly rather a generous one.
There’s not much, ultimately, in his characterisation in the film that persuades us that what Peterson/Bronson was engaged in was performance art rather than a caged beast rattling his bars. But by arguing this case, the film becomes a far more intriguing proposition than it would otherwise have been. Overall I enjoyed the film thoroughly and was pleased with my purchase, well worth the money.