Chopper (Eric Bana) is Mark "Chopper" Read, real-life convict and bestselling author of "How to Shoot Friends and Influence People." His story is frightening, savagely funny and twisted. The son of a devoutly religious mot... more »her and a one-time soldier with a fondness for sleeping alongside a loaded gun, Chopper dreams of making a name for himself as a legendary crime figure. His journey starts out as a wisecracking criminal failure, inside a maximum-security prison, but he manages to twist his life into a fascinating and wickedly funny take that the press and the public can't get enough of. Audio Commentary by director Andrew Dominik and Mark "Chopper" Read; Deleted Footage; Trailer; Interview with Mark Read« less
"There are plenty of reviews here that deal with the content and storyline of "Chopper". But I want to discuss Bana's amazing physical transformation to play this part.
Not since Robert DeNiro's chameleon-like transformation into Jake LaMotta in "Raging Bull" has an actor so thoroughly entrenched himself in the physicality of a role. Bana made his early career as a stand-up comic Down Under, but look at what he has done here! Watch "Black Hawk Down" to catch the "normal-looking" Bana, then watch "Chopper", his earlier film, to see the lengths he went to to gain some 80 pounds of fat/thickness to play this hulk (no 2003 movie pun intended -- okay, maybe it is intended) of a thug named Mark Brandon "Chopper" Read, one of Australia's most conspicuously (in)famous criminals.
At the start of the movie, and early in the filming of the movie, Bana/Chopper is a physically imposing yet fit figure. As the years pack on the pounds, Bana gained the girth to mirror Chopper's. A truly amazing and brave acting choice!Now read other reviews if you want opinions on the film (I liked it, by the way). But somebody tell DeNiro that Bana is close on his tail."
Jeffrey Leach | Omaha, NE USA | 09/30/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Chopper" is one of the more interesting films I have seen in the last year or two. An Australian picture, the movie purports to tell the story of one of that country's most notorious criminals. Films dealing with criminals or the crime underworld are far from rare, of course, as one need only to look to "The Godfather," "Goodfellas," or practically anything made by Quentin Tarentino for proof of this assertion. "Chopper" differs from these films in several significant ways. Arguably the most important distinction involves how we should perceive criminals. American films, perhaps tapping our age-old love of the outlaw, tend to glamorize the ugly brutality of criminal pathology. The Godfather films don't do this as much as Tarentino's pictures do, to be sure, but it's always there in some form or another. "Chopper" can't help but deal with the very public side of Mark Brandon "Chopper" Read, considering he published a series of smash bestsellers detailing his sordid adventures, but a close examination of the film reveals a very subtle portrait decrying a thug and the society that idolizes them.
When we first meet Chopper Read (Eric Bana), he's serving a sentence in prison. Just as in American penitentiaries, Australian lock-ups have gangs, and Chopper is on the bad side of a particularly loathsome brute. What to do in such a situation? Why, walk up to the chap in the commons and stab him repeatedly in the throat with a sharp object! Moreover, when the guy thrashes on the floor in a spreading pool of blood, look concerned, ask if he's o.k., and offer him a cigarette. Obviously, the authorities don't take kindly to inmates carving up other inmates, so they haul Chopper and a couple of his pals in for questioning. Someone must take the fall for the crime, which gives Chopper's pal Jimmy Loughnan (Simon Lyndon) an absolute fit. This guy comes up with a brilliant plan: lure Read into a personal "conference" and murder him with a knife. By doing this dastardly deed, Jimmy can pin the rap on Chopper and skate out from under a conspiracy charge. And he tries to do just that in one of the film's most chilling scenes. Jimmy stabs Chopper repeatedly to no avail. Instead of screaming, clutching his gut, or going after his friend Chopper merely looks at Jimmy with a hurt expression on his face. The betrayal of a pal doing such a nasty bit of work hurts Read more than the knife wounds.
Or does it? We can never be absolutely sure what Chopper thinks because he's an incurable psychopath. After taking the fall for the prison killing, Read serves more time but eventually gets a coveted transfer to a less harsh facility when he has a fellow inmate hack his ears off. Exactly. He hacks his ears off. If that won't get you out of the stir, I don't know what will. Anyway, Chopper eventually returns to his life on the streets. By this time, he has his teeth capped with metal and looks even more frightening. He promptly strikes up a relationship with Tanya (Kate Beahan), a harridan of some repute, and just as promptly beats her and her mother senseless after she rebuffs him. He even pays a visit to his old pal Jimmy who, it should go without saying, is less than enthusiastic about a reunion. Read doesn't seem to do much except visit with his father, terrorize people, and look for a way to put some money in his pocket. He's obviously not the type to work a normal job, not with his explosively violent temperament. Here's a guy who goes to a dealer's house, shoots the guy in the legs, and then drives him to a hospital. Not your average corporate type.
At the same time, Mark "Chopper" Read is a charming rogue, a doughty yet loveable goon covered in tattoos and scars sporting a smile sure to win over the hardest hearts. You can't help but like the guy considering his sense of humor, his aw shucks attitude, and his concern for friends and foes alike. What other criminal would drive one of their victims to the hospital? Or express such remorse over the harm he causes his girlfriend? What a guy! Isn't Chopper a great chap! Sure, he kills, robs, maims, and brutalizes people, but his winning personality makes everything acceptable in the end. That would be the Quentin Tarentino take on Mark Read. Fortunately, director Andrew Dominik doesn't take that position. He does play up a sort of running black humor about the proceedings, but we never come to feel anything but revulsion for this character. A wistful grin and a sudden remorse over a violent crime never fully absolve Read of our scorn. The final shot of the film, where we see Chopper once again in a prison cell yakking it up with a few guards about his latest television interview, underscores our initial impressions of the big fellah. He's exactly where he needs to be no matter how charismatic and charming his personality. Thank goodness for prisons!
Eric Bana should have won some awards for his portrayal of this depraved goon. He disappears into the character, a fact confirmed after watching the brief interviews with the real Chopper included on the DVD. Also included in the extras are deleted scenes and an audio commentary with director Dominik and Chopper himself. A violent film not suitable for the squeamish or small children, "Chopper" nonetheless is an intriguing effort that acknowledges the tendency of society to idolize criminals while ultimately consigning that foolish notion to the ash heap. "
"Are you all Right...?"
Daniel V. Reilly | Upstate New York, United States | 05/11/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"That's usually the first thing a genuinely contrite Mark Brandon Read says to his victim after whatever horrific act of violence he's just perpetrated on them, such as stabbing them repeatedly in the face..... Chopper tells Read's story, as he goes from jailhouse loser to Aussie celebrity and best-selling author. Along the way we get to see the aforementioned face stabbing, a face-shotgunning, ears being cut/torn/pulled off, genital exposing, girlfriend beating, and other charming behavior from the genial killer, called Chopper (I presume) because of his propensity for chopping off people's toes with bolt-cutters. I consider myself pretty strong-stomached, but there were a few scenes in Chopper that made me cringe, especially the ear scene. (In his audio commentary, the real-life Chopper hilariously tells where Quentin Tarantino went wrong with his legendary ear scene in "Reservoir Dogs".) The title character is vividly brought to life by Eric Bana, who will probably become well-known for his upcoming role in Ang Lee's Hulk movie, but deserves recognition for his absolutely stunning performance here. Bana gained over thirty pounds over the course of filming, and the transformation he undergoes is stunning, and rates alongside Robert De Niro's celebrated turn in "Raging Bull". Bana is THAT good.... The film is WAY too short, and glosses over a lot of details that the filmmakers probably assumed the audience would already know. The box says Chopper's Mom was devoutly religious, but it's never mentioned in the film, and the way the Cops let this mad-dog roam free just defies belief; Bana brings such barely controlled rage and violence to the part that it's hard to believe anyone would go within 100 feet of this guy! But as the "Weekend with Chopper" featurette shows, the real Read is a pretty charming guy when he wants to be. (Check out his reaction to the film's projected 2000 release date, though- If I were Bana, I would have got up and run for the hills!) I don't know how much of Read's recollections are really true, but I'll tell you what: True or not, he scares the hell out of me. The DVD features seperate audio commentaries by the Director & Read, deleted scenes, a theatrical trailer, and the "Weekend with Chopper" featurette. Now please excuse me while I go try to track down all of Read's books....."
Russell Wayne Brown | TX United States | 11/21/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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.This is the start of this amazing movie. Eric Bana IS Chopper in this unbeilivable performance. Unlike Oliver Stones Natural Born Killers where Stones makes the killers way over the top and seem like everything is fun, happy, and cool this is not the case with Chopper. Chopper is a human just like you and me, he's just mentally unstable. In the end it's hard to like Chopper because of his violent actions but in the same sense is hard to hate him because of his personility and deep down caring attitude.Don't miss this great movie and DVD (great features, commentary by the real Chopper Read, and a funny interview with him) anytime soon."
Never Let the Truth Get in the Way of a Good Yarn
Hansol Lee | 05/29/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Never mind the fact that this supposed autobiographical story (the disclaimer notwithstanding) is written by a guy who once said "never let the truth get in the way of a good yarn." Never mind the fact that this movie celebrates (glorifies, even) a violent murderer and his crimes. Never mind the chaotic, choppy (no pun intended) plot and the abrupt, anti-climactic ending. The bottom line: "Chopper" is a fascinating and immensely entertaining film. The best thing about this film, without a doubt, is Eric Bana in the titular role. His portrayal of Mark Brandon "Chopper" Read is chilling and funny at the same time, and effectively conveys the unlikely charm and charisma of this career criminal. It is the most memorable performance I have seen in years, with the possible exception of Björk in "Dancer in the Dark". I also loved the stark, unpolished and minimalistic look of this film. Warning 1: This film is rated NC-17 for a reason. It does contain a lot of ultra-violent scenes, including an ear-cutting scene that will inevitably draw comparison to "Reservoir Dogs", but trust me, it'll make "Reservoir Dogs" seem like a walk in the park. It eventually enters the "Pulp Fiction" arena where violence reaches such an absurd level that it becomes almost comical, however. Warning 2: You might find the Australian accent a bit difficult to understand at first (remember the first time you saw "Trainspotting"?) but it's worth the extra effort."