A great Australian movie, Chopper
is loosely based on the autobiography of career crim Mark Brandon "Chopper" Read, whose attention-seeking mix of psychotic violence and matey ingratiation made him an outcast even in the underworld and finally--with bizarre logic--turned him into a bestselling celebrity without any need for repentance and regeneration. Andrew Dominik, a music video maven making his directorial debut, wrestles the unpromising material into shape, using a striking palette of blues inside prison and sickly neons outside, wisely building the film around a terrific lead performance from stand-up comedian Eric Bana as the crook who had his own ears hacked away so he could get off a prison wing where he was marked for death and whose forceful personality means that he can always rekindle a relationship even with those to whom he has done dreadful violence in the past and whom he certainly intends to shoot, batter, rob and betray in the future--with the mildly redeeming caveat that he sometimes drives his victims to the hospital after injuring them. The movie has a lot of smart incidental detail, like the paranoid dealer who doses his dogs' water with speed, the ridiculous mix-up of an assassination set up in the wrong car park of a nightclub that has two, and Chopper's repeated mood swings in the middle of lengthy dialogue scenes that begin with conciliation and apology and pay off with doubts and eruptions of violence that leave the perpetrator genuinely regretful of what has happened.
The nicely presented DVD features excised scenes, footage that Dominik shot with the real Chopper, commentary tracks from Dominik and Chopper and the trailer. --Kim Newman
Spain released, PAL/Region 2 DVD: LANGUAGES: English ( Dolby Digital 2.0 ), Spanish ( Dolby Digital 2.0 ), Spanish ( Subtitles ), WIDESCREEN, SPECIAL FEATURES: Biographies, Filmographies, Interactive Menu, Production Notes, SYNOPSIS: Australian comedian Eric Bana is Mark "Chopper" Read, a legendary criminal who wrote his best-selling autobiography, FROM THE INSIDE, while serving a murder sentence in prison. Beginning in the blue-washed light of a maximum security Melbourne prison, Chopper establishes his dominance with the impulsive knifing of a fellow prisoner. Vaccillating between violence and regret, Chopper apologizes to his victim, but his good mate Jimmy (Simon Lyndon) later retaliates against Chopper in an excruciating contract stabbing, rife with sexual tension. Finally released from prison, the heavily-tattooed Chopper has lost the better part of both of his ears, as well as the ability to make any distinction between his own made-up stories and reality. At a nightclub with his prostitute girlfriend, Tanya (Kate Beahan), he runs into Neville (Vince Colosimo), an old victim who limps from the attack but glitters in drug-funded gold. In his paranoia, Chopper connects rumors of a new contract on his life to Neville, Tanya, and his old mate Jimmy, to whom he pays a visit and discovers a man rotting from drug abuse. Alternately wickedly funny and grotesque, CHOPPER gives no easy answer to the question of Chopper Read's motives, but his method is clear, "Ya bash people for no reason, just to get a name for yourself."
SCREENED/AWARDED AT: Australian Film Institute, Film Critics Circle of Australia Awards, Stockholm Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, ...Chopper