Digitally remastered and reissued for its 20th anniversary in cinemas and on digital, Andrew Dominik’s Chopper remains one of the most viscerally entertaining gangster films of its era. Taking the viewer into the mind and world of the titular criminal Mark “Chopper” Read with a tour-de-force performance from Eric Bana, the film is an explosive and oft-hilarious trip to Australia’s underworld.
Based on Read’s charmingly intense memoirs, Chopper is certainly one of the best cinematic portrayals of a larger-than-life nutter – telling their story with their input. The real-life Chopper himself suggested Bana for the part after seeing him in comedy sketch show Full Frontal. Bana then bravely spent two days living with Read to prepare for what would ultimately become his most celebrated performance. Veering wildly from endearing and funny to psychotic and deranged, Bana is utterly commanding in the role.
Dominik’s direction is a revelation, too, for a directorial debut. The acclaimed filmmaker would go on to direct modern masterpieces such as The Assassination of Jesse James (…) and the criminally-underrated Killing Them Softly, but he certainly proved he was one to watch with this phenomenal entry to the industry.
The new digital restoration – from 35mm elements – certainly presents Chopper in the best quality possible. The film’s intentionally grimy and gritty look is well-handled in the new print, taking the viewer into the violent world of Pentridge Prison and beyond.
Chopper remains an essential film in the crime genre, boasting a flawless performance from Eric Bana and stellar direction from Andrew Dominik.