Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn follows his aggressively stylized Pusher trilogy with this in-your-face biopic of British prisoner Charles Bronson (originally Michael Gordon Peterson), who was sentenced on a robbery conviction in 1974 and has proved so incorrigibly violent that he’s spent most of his life since then behind bars. Once employed as a circus strong man, Bronson (Tom Hardy) sports a shaved head and handlebar mustache, and Refn presents this jolly madman in a variety of showbiz fantasies (wearing clown makeup, addressing a packed theater) to tease out the weird disjuncture between his penal isolation (he’s spent 30 years in solitary confinement) and his tabloid fame in the UK. In the tradition of prisoner dramas, Bronson is a figure of overpowering will, though his long history of taking hostages suggests he’s less interested in escaping than in sucking everyone else into his hell. Asked at one point what he was doing during 69 days in solitary, he replies, “I was building an empire.”