Review: “The Bikeriders” is a breeze to watch

Jul 4, 2024

The Bikeriders Movie Austin Butler

The catch of Jeff Nichols’ “The Bikeriders” is that it sells you its swagger from the get-go.

It opens with Benny (Austin Butler) drinking a glass of whiskey in a bar when he is confronted by two regulars aggressively trying to kick him out of the building because of his leather jacket. The entire scene plays out like a clip from an old Western movie where the hero, out of nowhere, gets challenged in a duel by another bounty hunter.

Benny is a young reckless who would always grab the chance to fight if given the opportunity. He’s good-looking, muscular, and would do things on his own terms. He’s cool in a James Dean way, to the extent that it gradually feels like an impersonation. But is it intentional? I’ll rest my case that it is.

Benny is a member of the Vandals Motorcycle Club, founded by Johnny (a mostly reserved Tom Hardy in a Marlon Brando way). The film chronicles the rise of their group, being the face of danger in their city, and the inevitable perils that come with it.

The Bikeriders Movie - Austin Butler Tom Hardy

They are undeniably charismatic and cool until they're not. “The Bikeriders” tells you that sporting a jacket while riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle will only get you so far. The realities of life will come your way, whether you like it or not.

While much of the scenes with this group are a thrill to watch, I feel the movie’s best ingredient is Jodie Comer, who plays Kathy, the wife of Benny. Kathy becomes an unofficial member of the Vandals and later on as the moral compass of the film. Comer brings fierceness in her performances that trumps the macho energy of her costars Butler and Hardy.

The Bikeriders Movie Austin Butler Jodie Comer

A few criticisms surrounding “The Bikeriders” revolve around the aimlessness of its narrative. The story jumps over and wobbles through different settings and times, but I think it’s for the better. For the most part, watching this gang flaunt their wheels is a breeze to watch. Not in an “Easy Riders”-level of vibe but enough to be enthralled.

This film is a long-in-development project for writer-director Jeff Nichols. Based on a photo book of the same name, “The Bikeriders” could’ve treated this as a three-hour sprawling epic of the motorcycle culture instead of being a lot of things at once. But what we got is still great, though I highly recommend seeing it for what Jodie Comer brings to the table.

The Bikeriders is now showing in New Zealand cinemas from Universal Pictures.

Featured images courtesy of Universal Pictures.


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