- 1 hr 34 min
In the gritty and violent Australian crime drama Chopper, directed by Andrew Dominik, Eric Bana gives a mesmerizing performance as Mark "Chopper" Read, a real-life criminal and author who made a name for himself as a notorious gangster in Melbourne during the 1970s and '80s. The film chronicles the rise and fall of Chopper, who is introduced as a heavily tattooed and bald-headed prisoner who has just had his own ears cut off in an attempt to gain notoriety while in prison. From there, the film flashes back to Chopper's early days as a bouncer and self-proclaimed vigilante, who frequently used violence and intimidation to solve problems both big and small. Despite his criminal activities, Chopper has gained a measure of fame in Australia, thanks in part to his bestselling books, which recount his jailhouse experiences and criminal exploits. But even as he tours the country on a book tour and enjoys his newfound celebrity, Chopper is plagued by personal demons, including his volatile temper and his tendency to betray even his closest allies. As Chopper lurches from one violent confrontation to the next, the film never shies away from the brutal reality of his activities. We see Chopper commit vicious acts of violence against his enemies, including a chilling sequence in which he uses a pair of bolt cutters to mutilate a rival gang member. And yet, even as he is perpetrating these acts, Bana's Chopper remains a compelling and strangely sympathetic character, thanks to his charisma and his occasional flashes of vulnerability. Throughout the film, we see Chopper interacting with a number of other criminals, including his longtime friend Jimmy (Simon Lyndon) and fellow gang members Keithy George (David Field) and Neville (Vince Colosimo). The scenes between Chopper and his various associates are often volatile and unpredictable, with tensions simmering just below the surface. One of the most striking aspects of Chopper is its visual style. The film is shot in a naturalistic, documentary-style that gives it a raw and unpolished feel, making the violent and gritty world of Australian crime feel all the more real. Director Andrew Dominik maintains an unflinching eye, capturing the stark beauty and brutality of urban Australia with an artists' approach. Eric Bana's performance, however, is the film's real standout. His portrayal presents Chopper with a steely-eyed intensity that is equal parts scary and charismatic. Despite his numerous faults and criminal activities, we canât help but root for him in some moments throughout the movie. He's a complex character with a peculiar blend of violence, humor, and humanity. He can turn from friendly to dangerous in a single breath, and his unpredictability keeps us on our toes throughout the entire film. Overall, Chopper is a riveting and intense crime drama that is sure to leave a lasting impression on anyone who watches it. With Andrew Dominik's expert direction and Eric Bana's flawless acting, the film tells a brutally honest story of a man who lived and died on the edge of society. A difficult watch due to the graphic violence, itâs recommended for fans of crime movies and those interested in character studies.