Chopper


Directed by: Andrew Dominik
Written by:Andrew Dominik
Starring: Eric Bana, Simon Lyndon, Vince Colosimo, David Field, Daniel Wyllie, Bill Young
Released: August 3, 2000
Grade: B+

Chopper isn’t your run of the mill Australian film.  Many have heard stories, read books, or even caught glimpses on TV of Mark “Chopper” Read and had a good chuckle.  This film is not what people will expect.  Sure there are a laughs - it’s part of Read’s persona, but there’s a lot more beneath the surface that shows a different look at the Australian criminal icon.

The film is ultimately told in two parts.  The first is set in Melbourne’s Pentridge Prision, 1978.  Read has been sentenced to over 16 years for the attempted kidnapping of a judge.  In the slammer, we discover just how interesting a character he really is.  Eric Bana plays the role superbly.  It’s hard to tell most of the time when Read is being serious or just joking which makes the film all the more unsettling.

Read is released in 1986 where the film begins it’s second act.  We see him back in society enhancing the enigma.  Not as interesting as the first half, Read is assisting police in their investigations in return for turning a blind eye to his own activities.

The most rewarding aspect of watching this film is Bana’s performance.  13kg was packed on in four weeks for the role showing how dedicated he was to making the most of this opportunity.  It was actually Read’s idea for casting Bana is the key role.

Certainly a different perspective on the violent criminal, Chopper shows that there’s no simple line between good and evil.  Read has killed and will probably kill again but his mindset is more intriguing than the bluntness of the murders.