Mark Brandon Read earned his nickname by removing his victim's lower digits. Brilliantly portrayed by stand-up comedian Bana, 'Chopper' is one of those boorish Australians who's everyone's best friend until he takes offence: if you're unfortunate enough to tap into his dark side, he'll be sure to blame you for it and the punishment will be twice as severe. With his twinkling grin, his tattoos and beer-bucket frame, he's a plausible heavy, but Bana also shows us his sentimental side. When a cellmate repeatedly stabs him in the chest out of fear and greed, Chopper's hurt by the betrayal, but unfazed by physical pain, as if he's been desensitised to violence of any kind. Later, on the outside, he calls on his treacherous friend and your stomach churns: we know this man is capable of anything. It's funny, too: that commonplace about laughter being a safety valve has never been nearer the knuckle. Writer/director Dominik filters his subject's emotional volatility through colour washes but steps back to expose his fear and loneliness, and the infantile delusions which spur him.
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