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.