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Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4
CHOPPER, written and directed by Andrew Dominik, is based on the books
written by one of Australia's most notorious criminals, Mark "Chopper" Read,
but the film is careful to point out that the story is not a biography, per
se. What it is is a chilling tale that is made even more intriguing by
being based on a real criminal.
The compelling reason to see CHOPPER is the tour de force performance by
Eric Bana as Chopper. (A reason not to see it, for some, is that it is
intense, realistic and graphically violent.) Bana so inhabits his part as
Chopper that it becomes hard to belief that he is just acting. Bana is
probably a sweet guy in real life, but, after seeing this movie, you'd
probably run away if you met him in public.
Chopper, looking like a Hell's Angel with an almost indecipherable Aussie
accent, has rolls of fat on his beer belly. His skin is tattooed, not with
works of body "art" but rather with something that looks more like doodling,
and his mouth is filled with shiny metal teeth. Even with all of these
bodily distractions, he still comes across as a strangely likable guy, who
just happens to be a sociopath who might kill you instantly because of a
real or imagined offense against him.
Between violent episodes in and out of prison, there are some humorous
scenes as well. Chopper knows that his girlfriend, Tanya (Kate Beahan),
works in a brothel. Jealous since he thinks she's seeing someone, he asks
her whom she's screwing. Laughing out loud, she reminds him what she does
for a living. After thinking a minute, which doesn't come naturally to
Chopper, he demands to know whom she has been kissing, figuring that she
saves that for her lovers. Chopper is the kind of guy to whom there are no
right answers. Luckily, she and her mother are only beaten, not killed.
Although most viewers are probably uncomfortable with such intense
experiences as CHOPPER, for those who can stomach it, this movie is a
fascinating portrait of a frightening man. And it contains a great
performance by Eric Bana.
CHOPPER runs 1:34. It is not rated but would be NC-17 for graphic violence,
drug usage and language and would be acceptable for college students and
Copyright © 2001 Steve Rhodes