on April 11, 2001 by Ed Scheid
   "Chopper" is based on the experiences of Mark "Chopper" Read, a gangster who became one of Australia's best-selling authors. The action begins with Chopper ("The Castle's" Eric Bana) incarcerated in a prison's maximum security wing. His brutality makes him such a threat to fellow inmates that he is repeatedly stabbed by his best friend Jimmy (Simon Lydon). Surviving multiple bloody wounds, Chopper has another inmate cut off his ears so that he can transfer out of maximum security. Eventually released from prison, Chopper fears for his life.

   The charismatic and explosive performance of Eric Bana holds together the conventionally plotted film. Bana is a stand-up comic who was recommended for the role by the real Chopper. Director/writer Andrew Dominik, who previously directed music videos, gives his feature debut a vivid and grisly atmosphere. To emphasize Chopper's increasing paranoia, colors are both intensified and washed-out. The film disappoints when it comes to explaining how Chopper's memoirs made him a celebrity.    Starring Eric Bana, Simon Lyndon and David Field. Directed and written by Andrew Dominik. Produced by Michele Bennett. No distributor set. Drama. Not yet rated. Running time: 96 min.

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