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
Mark Chopper Read is Australia s most infamous criminal. This is his story. Sentenced to 14.5 years for attempting to abduct a judge Chopper Read finds himself in H Division the maximum security division of Melbourne s Pentridge Prison. Re united with his best friend Jimmy Loughnan, Chopper re ignites the power struggle for control of the wing. Events take a dramatic turn and Chopper is attacked by Jimmy. Fearing further retribution he slices off his own ears to effect a transfer from H Division Eight years later Chopper is released - a one-man arsenal driven by resentment, guilt and his dream to become a legendary crime figure.