Owen Gleiberman
April 20, 2001 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Chopper

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
runtime
93 minutes
Limited Release Date
04/11/01
performer
Eric Bana, Vince Colosimo, David Field, Kenny Graham, Simon Lyndon, Daniel Wyllie, Bill Young
director
Andrew Dominik
Producers
Mushroom Pictures, Pariah Films
distributor
Beyond Films, Palace Films
author
Andrew Dominik
genre
Mystery and Thriller, Drama

We gave it a C-

The title character of Chopper is a buff and blustery Australian, bedecked with a Fu Manchu mustache, who commits one insanely bloody and horrifying crime after another (multiple neck stabbings, anyone?), nattering on all the while in the disaffected, jocular argot of an insult-happy nightclub comic. As played by Eric Bana, a winning if slightly stolid actor you could easily envision as a mad biker in leather underwear in The Road Warrior, this ironic psycho is like Natural Born Killers‘ Mickey Knox crossed with Crocodile Dundee.

Chopper, a movie overtly designed to win attention (and not to do much else), might have been engineered to cater to the smugness of been-there-seen-that urbanites eager to snack on fashionable new displays of ultraviolence. The film is based on the life of Mark ”Chopper” Read, a convicted Australian murderer turned best-selling author, but it keeps you at arm’s length from his motivations. In prison for kidnapping, Chopper gets the tops of his ears sliced off to facilitate a transfer, and he ends up stalking his old neighborhood, terrorizing ”friend” and foe alike. It’s all very post-empathetic, yet one hardly needs to be an aesthetic prig to object to the monotonous glib sensationalism of Chopper, a movie too senseless and contrived to succeed as sociopathic comic opera, let alone as coherent character study.

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