Film: Chopper

An Australian film starring Eric Bana as the infamous Real Life Melbourne criminal Mark 'Chopper' Read.

The film portrays a portion of Read's storied life, beginning and ending in prison. The film begins with the incidents leading up to his famous self-mutilation, in which he had his ears chopped off in order to escape retaliation from a rival. Read is shown to be a violent and unbalanced man with a forceful and often gregarious personality. After serving his term, Read proves unfit for the outside world and soon lands back in prison, where he can take only fleeting comfort in the tabloid fame that his antics and charm have brought him.

The film was a success in Australia and received some global recognition as well. The film launched Bana into mainstream success as a movie star after a career primarily limited to the Australian comedy scene.

This film provides examples of:

  • Advice Backfire: In the beginning of the film while locked up on Pentridge prison, Chopper jokingly tells his rival Keithy George that he could kill him and present his psych evaluation to the court and no jury in the land would convict him for it. Shortly afterwards, Chopper's best friend Jimmy tries to stab Chopper to death and fails, but doesn't get convicted for it.
  • Affably Evil: Chopper is a two-bit thug, but he's incredibly charming when he's not killing you, and sometimes even when he is. He makes it clear that the average person on the street has nothing to fear from him, but watch out if you're a fellow criminal, especially one who deals drugs. Then he's coming after you and you'll be lucky if he leaves with just a big wad of cash that you have generously donated to him. This is Truth in Television, as Chopper became a mainstream celebrity in Australia by telling stories from his sordid life.
  • All Is Well That Ends Well: Parodied with Chopper's bizarrely philosophical reaction to being stabbed. Justified in that he's talking to cops, so it's Honor Among Thieves.
    Chopper: Look. The bloke's been me best mate since 1975. We've had our fallouts from time to time, it's no big deal. Y'know, it's like...if your mum stabs ya, whaddya do? Ya don't get upset. Ya don't get angry, ya go, "Shit, mum's stabbed me, I better get off to the hospital."
  • Anti-Hero: Chopper thinks he is one of these, specifically a Type IV with a strong flavour of Lovable Rogue. The film plays on the dissonance between Chopper's idea of himself and how he actually behaves - see below.
  • Arch-Enemy: Subverted and played for very dark laughs in the case of Chopper and Keith.
    Jimmy: Why do you hate him so much?
    Chopper: I don't hate him. I don't hate anyone.
    Jimmy: Well, why have we been fighting him for three fuckin' years, then?
    Chopper: (thinks for a moment) I dunno.
    Jimmy: Well, maybe we should have a reason.
    Chopper: Well, make one up.
  • Attention Whore: Chopper loves being in the media limelight as a celebrity criminal.
  • Berserker Tears: Chopper has these right after attacking Keith.
  • Boom, Headshot: Chopper gives one to The Turk via a small shotgun. Amazingly The Turk manages to walk several feet before collapsing.
  • Cassandra Truth: Chopper attempts to confess to the police after shooting The Turk, but they don't believe him.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Chopper over Tanya.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Chopper gives a truly horrible one of these to Keith.
  • Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster : Chopper loves what he does and the media attention that goes with it, especially while he still gets away with the vast majority of his nefarious activities. By the end of the film we do see however that it has left him with a quite lonely and empty life.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Chopper is a violent, semi-literate sociopath but he's also got most of the best lines in the film.
    Chopper: Why whould I shoot a bloke — BANG — and then put him in the bloody car and whiz him off to the hospital at a hundred miles an hour? It defeats the purpose of having shot him in the first place.
  • Dissonant Serenity: An extremely disturbing example, when Jimmy stabs Chopper. At first, Chopper doesn't even notice that it's happened. Then he doesn't understand why Jimmy's done it. Then, when he does figure out what's got into Jimmy, he tries to give him a forgiving hug. When even that doesn't work, and Jimmy finally backs away with Oh Crap! written all over his face and suggests that it might be a good idea for Chopper to lie down, Chopper calmly replies "What for?"
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Chopper's dad.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Chopper won't kill Jummy Loughnan in front of his own children, despite knowing Jimmy has taken a contract out on Chopper's head.
  • Fan of Underdog: While in prison, Chopper goes out of his way to help and support the weaker prisoners who have no chance of surviving on their own.
  • Foe Cooties: Chopper gets it into his head that Tanya has been having sex with his enemy Neville Bartos
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Chopper is unbalanced and a danger to everyone around him, even people he's being friendly towards. Mostly because the people in his social circle are all petty criminals and lowlifes and he is paranoid that they're all trying to kill him.
  • Implausible Deniability: As Keith George lies bleeding to death on the floor of the prison common room, Chopper tells the guards that Keith must have accidentally shivved himself multiple times in the neck.
  • I Shall Taunt You: Chopper tries to provoke a fellow prisoner into attacking him, so that he can defeat him and become the division's Badass In Charge.
    Keith: Fuckin' blow-fly.
    Chopper: Aw, Keith. I always thought I was a good bloke.
    Keith: What did you ever do that was good?
    Chopper: Well, I bashed you. That was good, wasn't it? Well, it was good for a bit of a giggle, anyway. Eh, Keithy?
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Chopper barely reacts to being shanked several times because he is too busy trying to make the man shanking him see reason.
  • Mononymous Biopic Title: Named after its subject, Australian criminal Mark 'Chopper' Reed.
  • Mood Lighting / Color Wash: Loads: Unnatural blue (prison), sickly green (Chopper's dad's kitchen; Neville's garage), lurid orange (Bojangles' parking lot), heart-pounding red (Tanya's room; Neville's TV room), and comforting beige (Tanya's mom's house).
  • Refuge in Audacity: Chopper shoots a man in a parking lot and immediately goes to the police and admits to the crime, even showing them the murder weapon. They don't buy it because they think Chopper is doing his normal bullshit artist routine.
  • So Proud of You:
    Chopper's Dad: That's my boy. Right in the skull!
  • Tattooed Crook: Truth in Television
  • Unreliable Expositor: Chopper claims to have killed 19 people, yet has only been tried for one murder, of which he was acquitted.
  • Villain Protagonist: Chopper.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: When Chopper takes off his shirt and vest after being stabbed, Bluey has one of these. Word of God says that the actor, Dan Wyllie, was such a professional that he threw up, for real, on cue.
  • Why Did You Make Me Hit You?: Chopper's a nice guy, it's just that everyone's out to get him.
    Chopper (after punching Tanya several times in the face and shoving her mother to the floor): You see what you did!? Your mum's upset...!
  • Would Hit a Girl: Chopper. Twice.