banner image


The name Chopper refers to one of Australia’s most recent criminals, Mark “Chopper” Read. The big screen is the focus to observe some of his notorious standover tactics and deranged actions. Through Chopper’s own stories, writer/director Andrew Dominik is able to capably portray the sort of sadistic, underground figure that people have heard about, yet seen, unless you’ve read one of his books. Chopper has profited from his underhanded tactics by his best-selling books and escaped blame for violent crimes. As a person, Chopper is bizarre and scum. As a film subject, however, he makes for a certain fascination amid compelling snapshots of his terrifying moments.
What the viewer sees is the grim reality of the local, crime-ridden underground. Getting through the first fifteen minutes should ensure your safe passage through the remaining eighty minutes. Chopper’s cold, calculated method of dealing with the “cell politics” is startling. The director doesn’t show any style in this violence, particularly when Chopper asks an inmate to cut each ear.
It’s interesting to note that we don’t get a real insight into the person who became “Chopper” Read, and how his criminal scheming and disturbing nature came about. But, maybe, Read deliberately left those details behind in his writings. I have never followed his life through his books or the criminal proceedings that eventuated, but the film is full of intensity and one never knows when the next shot is fired. There are some extremely violent scenes, reminding of some scenes from Hong Kong action films. There is hardly a moment to waste in Chopper’s eyes.
Whatever one may make of the subject matter, there is a strong reason to see this film. It is the performance of Eric Bana as Chopper. Best known as a comedian, who has starred in television, Eric turns in an outstanding performance in the way he commands the screen for almost the entire length of the film. He aptly provides the right skills in displaying Chopper’s sarcasm and killer instinct. It took hard work for Eric to fit the appearance and he pulls it off remarkably. Vince Colosimo and Simon Lyndon provide solid supporting roles. Added to the worthy direction and acting, comes an appropriately intense soundtrack. Mick Harvey does a fine job with the score, while the soundtrack includes artists as The Saints, Cold Chisel, Rose Tattoo and Birthday Party. (SEE OUR CD REVIEWS section). Overall, it’s a fascinatingly strong film about one of the most deranged criminal minds that Australia has produced in modern times.