The Bikeriders – Review


The Bikeriders is a film that is very much a passion project from creator Jack Nichols, and is based on a book by Danny Lyon, where he interviewed and took photos of several biker gangs in Illinois. The story takes place between the late 1950’s and the early 1970’s.

It centres around the social club of bikers, led by Johnny (Tom Hardy). Inspired by Marlon Brando movies, and a slow descent into thuggery with the influence of outside members.

The film has a larger, more central focus on a gang member Benny (Austin Butler), and his relationship with Kathy (Jodie Comer), who acts as a sort of narrator for large parts of the movie.

I personally thought that this film was an interesting one based off the trailers alone, and I think that the trailers didn’t prepare people for how violent the movie actually was. For one thing, the film is very much a piece about the descent of people into thuggery, but I was given the impression that Danny was always a thug with a code of conduct, especially with some of his actions towards the end of the movie.

Granted, there are some embellishments on the true story, I’m almost certain that some names have been changed and there is some poetic licence- but I do think it captures that portion of history quite well. This film could have been a character piece, but the film jumps around a bit too much for that. For example, Michael Shannon is in the movie for a brief period, but I completely forgot he was in it! They did a very good job of making him almost unrecognisable.

The standout who I haven’t spoken about yet is Norman Reedus, playing the character Funny Sonny. Norman Reedus really looks like he was born to play this kind of character. He was one of the standout parts for me because of how infectious he is, he looked like he was having the time of his life!

Tom Hardy also gives a great performance, and he was finally given a script that suits his performance style quite well and has stopped being miscast as a comic book villain. I also think Austin Butler is a standout in this, too, between this and Elvis he has really become an actor that I’m looking out for these days! He’s definitely showing that he has a lot of versatility- especially since in this he plays a quiet character, so a lot of his emotion and performance comes through his facial expressions. I kind of wish there was a little more time devoted to the relationship between Benny and Kathy, since it only really becomes an important part of the film towards the end and is glossed over for the most part. They did a decent job of it, otherwise.

The film doesn’t overstay its welcome, while there are some things that could be expanded on, the runtime is only 2 hours, which I think is to its benefit. I was definitely feeling the film starting to drag towards the end, but it finishes just in time that it wasn’t an issue. While I said the film was about thuggery, I will say it wasn’t a majorly graphic film, which might have been because of budget or classification reasons, the team might have wanted to do more gory effects, but minds were changed last minute.

Personally, this isn’t the kind of film that I usually enjoy. But, if I look at it objectively, I think there are many things of merit in this film. I think that the cast works very well, and they give excellent performances, and if I had to say anyone was underdone in this, it was Jodie Comer, who’s character felt like an afterthought at times. Which is a shame, because when she’s on screen, she’s excellent!

The Bikeriders is a good movie, but I’m not sure I could go ahead and say it was great. I think that’s because it could have delved into the characters more. It’s clearly a passion project, but I would also say that while he has achieved many things, I don’t think he managed to fit everything he wanted into this movie.

It’s a good movie and I would recommend it if you have any interest, but you can definitely wait to see it at home release.
Calvin – Nerd Consultant

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