When we’re young, we are told to stand up to bullies, to defend ourselves against those who prey on the supposedly weak. They are the real cowards, we are told, and once exposed, their true colors will be revealed.
The British criminal Charles Bronson, the subject of director Nicolas Winding Refn’s strangely fascinating but somewhat impenetrable new character study, isn’t a bully in the conventional sense. He doesn’t taunt his victims; he simply pulverizes them, sometimes with warning, sometimes without. He is remorseless, but hardly emotionless – a study in unadulterated rage, and not a man to provoke or engage.