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 postempathetic, 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.